New Delhi/Guwahati: The RSS and the BJP on Monday refuted the allegation by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi that he was stopped from entering a Satra -- a Vaishnavite monastery -- in Barpeta in Assam.
In Guwahati, the BJP's Assam unit came out with video footage showing that the Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi consciously took the decision not to enter the Satra and that there was no RSS involvement.
"Spreading lies about the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh is an old game of the frustrated Congress leaders from Nirmal Khatri to Rahul Gandhi," RSS publicity department head Manmohan Vaidya posted on the RSS's official Twitter handle.
Rahul Gandhi alleged outside parliament on Monday that he wanted to visit the Vaishnavite monastery but was stopped by "RSS people".
"I had gone to Assam and wanted to visit a temple in Barpeta. At the temple, the RSS people stopped me from entering the temple. This is the way the BJP operates," he said.
Asked how he was stopped, Gandhi said they put women in the front and told him that he cannot enter the temple. "Who are they to stop me," Gandhi asked.
Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma also alleged that there was a demonstration by RSS people to stop Gandhi from entering the Vaishnavite monastery.
"This is condemnable. Are they contractors of Hinduism," he asked.
However, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi asked why would the RSS stop Gandhi from going to a temple.
"Earlier, there was (Kumari) Selja, then they said it was a different temple... Now it's him. The team that is researching for them is a gone case," Naqvi said.
In Guwahati, BJP leader and former health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma produced before the media two video clippings, where a minister and the Assam Congress chief indicated that it was a conscious decision of the party that Gandhi should take part in the road show and the public rally rather than entering the Satra.
In the first video, Irrigation Minister Chandan Sarkar is heard saying: "The Satra has some rules. As one should enter it after taking a bath and wearing a dhoti, our leaders didn't want to hurt religious sentiments. We thought if the (Satra) committee sends an invitation, he (Gandhi) will visit it later."
Sarkar was in charge of Gandhi's seven-km road show from near the Satra to the public rally in Medhirtari area.
In the second video, state Congress chief Anjan Dutta is heard saying: "We had sought two helicopters for the visit of Rahul Gandhi to Barpeta but could manage to get only one.
"We started late due to inclement weather and when we reached there, we were late by an hour. We were informed that 50,000 people had gathered at the rally venue. So, we decided that we would first go on with the rally and enter the Satra on the way back."
Sarma said both the clippings "clearly indicate that the Congress consciously took the decision to go to the road show and rally first than to enter the Satra".
"It was a lie when they say that RSS workers prevented them from entering the Satra," he said.
Sarma asked Gandhi as well as the Congress to apologise to the people of Assam.
"Nobody stopped Rahul Gandhi from entering the Satra. He did not enter as people waiting in the rally were his priority and they feared that people might leave if they were delayed further by entering the Satra," he said.
Sarma slammed the Congress for trying to play politics using a revered institution like the Satra.
State Congress chief Dutta, however, at a hurriedly-called press conference on Monday evening, said there was an "intelligence report" that the RSS and the BJP wanted to create an "unsavoury" situation during Gandhi's visit to the Satra.
Barpeta Satra head Bashista Deba Sarma also clarified that there was no RSS worker, and that people were waiting eagerly for Gandhi.
"I was waiting to welcome Rahul Gandhi with former Assam chief minister Bhumidhar Barman. However, Gandhi took a different route and bypassed the Satra to the disappointment of the people," he said.