NEW DELHI: Congress president Rahul Gandhi reached Nepal's capital Kathmandu late on Friday and tweeted a prayer in response to his criticism from the ruling BJP of his Kailash Mansarovar Yatra via the China route.
Responding to the BJP's scathing attack, Congress president shared an image of Mount Kailash – considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva – along with a Sanskrit shloka (mantra) ''Asato Ma Sat Gamaya'', which roughly translates into a prayer asking to be led “from untruth to truth”.
ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय।
ॐ शान्ति: शान्ति: शान्ति: ॥ pic.twitter.com/hSSLfdwDjq
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 31, 2018
The tweet from the Gandhi scion came after he reportedly reached Kathmandu from he will proceed towards Nepalganj by aircraft and then for Humla near Tibet border by aerial route, as per sources.
Rahul Gandhi had decided to undertake the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra after experiencing a near-death-like situation in April when his plane suddenly tanked with violent shuddering due to some technical glitch.
The mid-air scare for Rahul Gandhi and his team occurred while they were flying to Karnataka for campaigning in assembly polls. The chartered plane recovered soon and landed safely.
Rahul Gandhi's Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage, the route of which was not disclosed due to security reasons, has evoked sharp criticism from the ruling BJP, which has questioned the Congress chief's 'unbound' love for the dragon.
''The pilgrimage, aimed at seeking the blessing of Lord Shiva for prosperity and success of the country and its people, will take about 12 days,'' Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had said responding to the BJP attack.
"Shiv bhakt' Congress president Rahul Gandhi has left for undertaking the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, where he will take the 'parikrama' of Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva, and of Mansarovar lake. The yatra will take around 12 to 15 days, but the exact route cannot be disclosed due to security reasons," Surjewala said.
The BJP was quick to react alleging the Congress chief wanted Chinese ambassador to give him a ceremonial send-off and accused him of holding brief for China everywhere like a "Chinese spokesperson".
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra sought to know from the Congress as to which politicians and officials Rahul Gandhi will meet during his visit to "his favourite country" China.
Patra did not comment on Gandhi's pilgrimage, saying it is a personal visit.
"You are Rahul Gandhi, not Chinese Gandhi. Why should the Chinese ambassador want to see off a non-Chinese person? There is no such protocol," Patra told a press conference, asking what is the Congress president's "China connection".
Surjewala hit back and accused the BJP of trying to create "hurdles" in the yatra, saying by doing so they have invited Lord Shiva's wrath.
"An unnerved PM and a rattled BJP have shown their parochial-hateful mindset by mocking this sacrosanct religious journey of Rahulji to Maha Kailash. Calling this auspicious Yatra "honeymoon tourism" by BJP is the vilest attack on Hindu faith and beliefs.
"It is indeed sad and tragic that BJP is insulting the abode of Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati by such cheap political tactics. We pray that Mahadeva shows them the path of enlightenment to cleanse their minds and souls from the vile hatred," he said.
He said the Congress leader is undertaking the yatra for the country to move ahead and attain success and that the country remains secure.
Noting that as per tradition when someone embarks on a pilgrimage, people pray for its success, "but it is unfortunate that the BJP is disturbed over this difficult but spiritual journey".
"Even today for petty gains of power the BJP is creating hurdles and conspiring against the yatra. These small and petty conspiracies the BJP can do, but the BJP will not be able to come between 'Shiv bhakt' Rahul and his devotion to 'Bhole Shankar'," he said.
Surjewala said Rahul has left for the Mansarovar Yatra with prayers for the country's progress.
"Why is the BJP shaken by his the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. Can't he go for the yatra to pray for the progress and prosperity of the country or will he have to take permission from Narendra Modi ji. Has the BJP's arrogance reached such levels? We ask the BJP people to respect the age-old traditions and culture of this country," he said.
About Rahul Gandhi's April 26 plane incident, Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation came out with its 30-page report in which it has pinned the blame on the pilots for the near-crash of Congress president Rahul Gandhi's chartered plane at Hubli in North Karnataka.
Alleging "intentional tampering" with aircraft, the Congress party had demanded a probe into the "suspicious and faulty performance" of the aircraft.
At the AICC briefing, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the loss of autopilot can be dangerous and the sharp loss of altitude can be so sudden that pilots can find it difficult to recover.
"This could have caused a serious accident," he said.
The pilgrimage to Mt Kailash, which is considered the abode of Lord Shiva in Hindu mythology and is in the Tibetan Himalayas, is organised every year between June and September.
On April 26, the plane carrying Gandhi and some others from Delhi to Hubballi airport in Karnataka developed a technical problem and tilted heavily on the left side.
(With Agency inputs)