In footsteps of Indira & Rajiv, Gandhi scion visits Sringeri Mutt

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday paid a visit to the Sringeri Sharada Peetham, retracing his grandmother and former prime minister the late Indira Gandhi's footsteps, about four decades ago.

Clad in the traditional 'panche and shalya', a barefooted Rahul went about the Shankara Mutt premises alongside Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, KPCC president G Parameshwara and AICC general secretary incharge of Karnataka K C Venugopal.

After paying obeisance to Goddess Sharadamba at the Sharadamba temple, Rahul offered 'Eedagai Seva' (breaking of coconuts as an offering) at the Torana Ganapathi temple on the mutt premises. He even fed the endangered Mahsheer fish reared in the fish sanctuary of the mutt, which is located on the banks of River Tunga.

He later made his way into the Narasimha Vana to meet the mutt's senior pontiff Sri Bharathi Tirtha Swami, who he was closeted with for nearly half-an-hour. He also spent some time with the students of the Veda Pathashala at the mutt.

While Rahul's visit to the Mutt is part of the Congress' calibrated 'soft Hindutva' strategy, it is a fact that the Sringeri Mutt is much revered by the Gandhi family.

While Rahul's father and former prime minister the late Rajiv Gandhi used to frequent the temple and Mutt, Indira made a historical political comeback, after she visited the Peetham. Just before she contested the byelection to the Lok Sabha from Chikmagalur in 1978, Indira had visited Sringeri and offered puja at the temple.

Indira, who had suffered an ignominious defeat in Raebareli Lok Sabha seat against Raj Narayan after the Emergency, had shifted her base to south India and contested the Lok Sabha byelection from Chikmagalur against former chief minister Veerendra Patil of the Janata Party.

Her victory had not only marked her political rebirth but also revived her party, which was facing dwindling electoral prospects -- just like it is now.

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