The Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi asked his supporters to not use the 'har, har Modi' chant in his support after intense criticism of the slogan. Dwarka peeth Shankarachayra Swaroopanand Saraswati on Sunday raised an objection to the slogan and registered a strong protest with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, asking him to stop such “vyakti puja” (worship of individuals).
"Some enthusiastic supporters are using slogan 'Har Har Modi…' I respect their enthusiasm but request not to use this slogan in the future (sic)," Modi tweeted on Sunday.
However, when Swaroopanand was contacted after Modi's latest tweet requesting his supporters not to use the slogan, his disciple Brahmvidyanand told PTI over the phone that "Maharaj ji will welcome Modi's move", clarifying that the seer did not want to make any comment.
The Shankaracharya, who is considered close to Congress leaders such as Digvijaya Singh, was unhappy over the traditional chant "har har Mahadev" raised to hail Lord Shiv being "modified" into "Har Har Modi" to spruce up Modi's campaign. The BJP’s PM nominee is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Vadodara in Gujarat.
Union minister Salman Khurshid also requested the election commission to take cognisance of the slogan. "We respect democracy but god is above it... I request the EC to take cognisance of the slogan used by the BJP," Khurshid told reporters on Saturday.
Quoting a BJP leader's claim that "even god cannot stop Modi from becoming the PM," he said the party has forgotten the tradition of the country where no one is above god.
Swaroopanand, meanwhile, said: "After learning about it, I called up Bhagwat and asked him to stop such chanting, which is an insult to Lord Shiva. I told him that converting 'Har har Mahadev' into 'Har Har Modi' must be stopped. Instead of worshipping god, it is an attempt to worship a particular human being and is against the Hindu religion."
"In his reply, Bhagwat claimed that the RSS is always against man-worshiping. He also claimed that such chanting is done out of over enthusiasm by a few supporters, and it is not an intentional effort by the BJP," Swaroopanand said.
He, however, remained unconvinced by the explanation given by Bhagwat.
"If the RSS doesn't endorse man-worshipping, then why has it not done anything to stop such activities?" he asked.
"People say no one can stop Modi. But, if such activities continue, god will stop him," he added.
He pointed out an instance of "deification" of Modi in Chhattisgarh. "Some youth BJP leaders in Chhattisgarh removed a 'shivling' from the temple and installed Narendra Modi's photo into it. They must refrain from indulging in Vyakti-Puja," the Shankaracharya said.
While central BJP leaders said the phrase was not coined and attested by the party, Bihar leader Sushil Kumar Modi said: "There is no valid reason for anybody to object to the popular slogan 'har har Modi, ghar ghar Modi' which is aimed at wooing all households in the country in the larger goal to make Narendra Modi the next Prime Minister of the country."
"We don't take seriously what any seer may have said," he said when asked about Swaroopanand's opposition to the chant.
The BJP earlier said in an official statement: “It has come to our notice that in a few television channels there are discussions on “har har Modi” as if it is a BJP slogan. This is incorrect. The BJP slogan is “Abki baar Modi sarkaar.”