The row over gotra yet to cool off, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi today said he understands Hinduism better than the BJP, which doesn't understand it at all. The Congress leader's temple run has already riled the BJP, which is hoping for a fourth term in power in Madhya Pradesh, where Mr Gandhi was speaking.
"The most important quality that one can have is humility. It means if someone is speaking, I try to understand him. Even if someone is angry, I don't call him a fool. I try to understand why he is angry.... The BJP people don't understand the Hindu religion at all. My understanding of Hinduism is better than theirs," said Mr Gandhi, who earlier declared that he owed his understanding of Hinduism to the BJP.
In July, speaking from the floor of the Lok Sabha minutes before his surprise hug to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr Gandhi had said, "The BJP, the RSS and the PM Modi helped me understand what it means to be with the Congress, what it means to be an Indian, what it means to be a Hindu and a Shiv bhakt."
With weeks to go for the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the political discourse between the BJP and the Congress has come to rest largely on religion. While the Madhya Pradesh Congress has been speaking of building cow shelters and holding religious yatras, the BJP has accused it of relying on soft Hindutva to win votes.
Yesterday, after Mr Gandhi's visit to Ujjain's Mahakaleshwar temple, BJP's Sambit Patra questioned what his gotra was, pushing National Conference chief Omar Abdullah to tweet that he would "rather he was asked what his agenda is, what his plan for job creation is, what his plan for agriculture is, what his plan to combat inflation is..."
Today, the BJP alleged that Rahul Gandhi was exhibiting "fancy dress Hinduism" to fool people. "To mislead the Hindus, he is sporting a "janeu" (scared thread) over the shirt," Mr Patra said. Reiterating his question about Mr Gandhi's gotra, he said since the Congress leader is yet to respond, people are calling him a "Vatican gotra ka Brahmin" - a dig at the Italian origin of his mother Sonia Gandhi.
The BJP also questioned how, in view of Congress leader Shashi Tharoor's "scorpion on Shiva linga" comment on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr Gandhi could visit a Shiva temple without reprimanding his party leader.
Last year, ahead of the Gujarat elections, Mr Gandhi had declared that he is a devotee of the Lord Shiva. Recently, he also made a pilgrimage to Kailash Manasarovar, traditionally known as the abode of the deity.