New Delhi: In yet another dampener for Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is trying hard to posit himself as the foremost challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the upcoming 2019 general polls, senior party leader and ex-minister Hansraj Bhardwaj said Rahul was yet to become a political leader, that he was still learning and was yet to be accepted by the public.

“I don't consider Rahul Gandhi a leader yet. He will understand when he gets a post. Congress fails because it indulges in the politics of religion. Rahul Gandhi is learning. He will become a leader when public accepts him,” Bhardwaj said on Thursday.

The former law minister also raised questions over Rahul’s temple run. “Whatever he does in the name of religion turns out to be wrong.” He also rejected the Congress’ soft Hindutva posturing and said that the primary reason for Congress’ failures was it doing politics of religion.

The former Kerala governor reminded Rahul that his ancestors — Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi — never indulged in the politics of religion.

The Congress loyalists came out with strong reactions against the comments.

Tom Vadakkan said that leaders such as Bhardwaj were still caught in the past. Bhardwaj was reminiscing those days when he used to be a big leader and Rahul was a kid, said Vadakkan, adding that times had changed.

This is not the first time Bhardwaj has targeted Rahul with a jibe. In April 2016, he had said that Rahul needed to learn politics, when the latter was the vice-president of the party.

He had also reminded the Congress that it was weak to take on the BJP in 2015. Congress was not up to stopping PM Modi.

Rahul was disconnected from the ground reality, he had said in 2015, and had added that he needed to lead the youth as he was a youth leader, but he was not in touch with the party seniors.