GANDHINAGAR: Rahul Gandhi, on his first visit to Gujarat after becoming Congress President and post the state Assembly election results, went to the Somnath temple and offered prayers. He later held meetings with state party leaders and election candidates.
After his arrival, Gandhi in the morning visited the revered Somnath temple to offer prayers and also offered a temple flag to Lord Somnath. This time his visit was devoid of any entry registration due to lack of time.
During his earlier visit, a controversy had erupted after he was shown as a non-Hindu in the temple registry, which the ruling BJP latched on to and created a hullabaloo.
After his temple visit, Gandhi was in the financial capital Ahmedabad, where he had meetings with the north Gujarat Congress leaders, including all the candidates who contested the recent elections. This was the first time that Gandhi was meeting the candidates and leaders one-on-one, without the filter of the state president or other state leader barriers.
According to sources in the party, the Congress` poor performance in north Gujarat was attributed to the outsiders who were inducted into the party following Alpesh Thakore`s induction and influence. As Thakore was busy in his own campaigning, he was unable to devote time for his projected candidates.
The Gandhi scion is to hold similar meetings with the central Gujarat leaders, and thereafter with Saurashtra leaders and finally South Gujarat candidates and leaders. The meetings are to not only discuss the recent election performance but also the Congress party`s roadmap for the 2019 general elections.
In the evening he will address the entire Gujarat Congress at the GMDC Ground in Ahmedabad.
Gandhi also met Congress rebel, Bhupenrasinh Khant, who won as an Independent from Morva Hadaf constituency, after the party denied him a ticket to contest. For Khant, who has now rejoined the party, it was a `Ghar Vapsi`. He had won the election, beating the BJP rival and Congress candidate Brijesh Merja. With his return, the Congress tally in the assembly has risen to 78.
Earlier, there was speculation that like Ratansinh Rathore, independent legislator from Lunawada constituency who has declared his support to the BJP government, Khant too would lend support to the BJP.