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Pakoda Party, Mosque Visit and Azan Break: A Day in Rahul Gandhi’s Karnataka Poll Campaign

Rahul Gandhi's visit to the Shams-e-alam mosque in Raichur district is a departure from his pre-election strategy in Gujarat during which he abstained from visiting any religious places but temples to project what has been dubbed by political observers as a ‘soft Hindutva’ approach.

Stacy Pereira | CNN-News18

Updated:February 12, 2018, 6:02 PM IST
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Pakoda Party, Mosque Visit and Azan Break: A Day in Rahul Gandhi’s Karnataka Poll Campaign
Rahul Gandhi takes a pakoda break with Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah and senior Congress leaders M Veerappa Moily and Mallikarjun Kharge. (Photo: News18)
Raichur (Karnataka): Congress president Rahul Gandhi took a break from his temple run in poll-bound Karnataka and stopped at a roadside stall in Kalmala village of Raichur district to savour pakodas along with some local dishes on Monday.

While it was not clear whether Gandhi was just hungry or it was a well-choreographed photo-opportunity, the symbolism of his ‘pakoda party’ was not lost on anybody as it came amid the raging controversy over the Prime Minister’s remark that even a pakoda seller should be considered gainfully employed.

The Congress has latched on to the PM’s statement and has been using it as a metaphor to drive home the point that the Modi government is clueless about creating jobs. It has held numerous protests in the state, with the party’s youth wing members selling pakodas while wearing graduation robes.

Gandhi, who is in the third day of his campaign trail in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, was accompanied by Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah and party leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, KC Venugopal and DK Shivakumar.

The Congress chief had started his day by paying a visit to the Shams-e-alam mosque in Raichur district, in a departure from his pre-election strategy in Gujarat during which he abstained from visiting any religious places, but temples, to project what has been dubbed by political observers as a ‘soft Hindutva’ approach.

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Rahul Gandhi, travelling in a customised bus, was greeted by party workers and people who lined up on both sides of the road at various places. (Photo: News18)

Although sources described the mosque visit as an impromptu stop, he was welcomed by a huge crowd there and youth Congress workers also unfurled a 100-feet tall flag to commemorate his entry. Loud cheers were the order of the day at three other receptions planned for him at Gunj Circle, Kalmala and Gubber in Raichur.

He also took a leaf out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s book as while addressing a rally in Devdurga later, he took a five-minute pause on hearing the azan, the call for prayer for Muslims. He received a huge applause when he resumed. PM Modi too, had made a similar gesture in 2016 during his election campaign in Kharagpur in West Bengal.

During his address to the tribal community of Devdurga, Rahul slammed the Modi government for neglecting the Dalit and SC/ST community.

He accused the Modi government of diverting funds meant for SC/STs to corporates instead. "Modi government allocated Rs 55,000 crore for the welfare of dalits and tribals in one year while the Karnataka government alone allocated Rs 27,000 crore,” Gandhi said.

Gandhi also lashed out at BJP leaders in the state over allegations of corruption. “Modiji you talk of corruption. Modiji, if you have some time after talking of the past, look at your left and right sides... On one side is (BS) Yeddyurappa who has been to the jail. On the other side, as many as four (former) ministers who went to jail... and behind, 11 leaders who had to resign on charges of corruption," he said.

Addressing roadside meetings, the Congress president also said farmers had asked the prime minister for help. "I had personally gone to his office and requested him to waive their loans, Narendra Modi did not even utter a word and he kept quiet."

Travelling in a customised bus along with other leaders from the state, Gandhi was greeted by party workers and people who lined up on both sides of the road at various places. Referring to various initiatives of the Congress government like Article 371(J) of the Constitution, giving special status for Hyderabad-Karnataka region, farm loan waiver, employment to youths, Gandhi said, "We will work even better in the coming years on being voted to power."

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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