Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asked whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi would decide who will visit a temple in India after he was denied permission to visit the birthplace (sattra) of Vaishnav saint Srimanta Sankardeva in Assam’s Nagaon District on Monday, citing possible disruption of law and order.
Gandhi said, “This is strange because Rahul Gandhi cannot go there while everyone else can visit the birthplace of Srimanta Sankardeva. Will PM Modi now decide who will visit a temple and when?”
He and other senior Congress leaders and supporters staged a dharna at Haibargaon on the way to Sankardev's birthplace in Batadrava, while Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi and Batadrava MLA Sibamoni Bora went to the birthplace to settle the dispute.
Gandhi told reporters that like Sankardeva, the Congress party workers and leaders also believe in bringing people together and not spreading hatred.
“Sankardeva provides us with guidance and is similar to a guru. I therefore wanted to pay my respects to him when I arrived in Assam,” he said.
“We were informed on Sunday that there is a law and order situation, but earlier on January 11, we had received an invitation to visit the place," he said.
Rahul Gandhi said, “I will visit Batadrava as soon as I can. I think the whole nation should take the path that Sankardeva showed us.”
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stated on Sunday that he had asked Rahul Gandhi not to visit Batadrava before the Ram Mandir inauguration in Ayodhya gets over. Soon after that the managing committee of the Sri Sankardeva Sattra announced that they would not permit the Congress leader to visit the sattra before 3 pm on Monday.
Gandhi and his group had left for the sattra early on Monday morning, but they were halted near Haibargaon by Additional District Commissioner, Lakhyajyoti Das and Nagaon SP Navaneet Mahanta and heavy security was deployed all around the sattra by the district administration.
Gandhi asked the police why they were preventing him from going to the sattra and said, “We just want to pray at the sattra. We don't want to cause any problems.”
Meanwhile, Gaurav Gogoi, who went to the sattra with local MLA Bora, said that it was absolutely empty. “There was a falsehood and rumour circulated that Gandhi's visit could have resulted in a law and order problem. Himanta Biswa Sarma had put a black spot on the history of Batadrava and the legacy of Sri Sankardeva,” he said.
The Congress MP added, “On behalf of Rahul, we offered prayers of peace and harmony, and all the 'pujaris' who were present on the premises extended their blessings to him. The area was completely peaceful, but the administration disseminated false information about the crowd and the state of law and order.”