Frankly, there might be some truth in the existence of ‘secular junkies’, after all. How else can you explain the reaction of many card-carrying critics of Narendra Modi criticising him for razing 152 encroaching roadside ‘temples’ in Gandhinagar? Sure, the Gujarat Chief Minister has received most of the flak from expected quarters. Trustees of temples and Mandir Bachao lots — in league with rebels who had scooted from the BJP or were shown the door last year — are understandably grumbling. In their rather narrow minds, if Mr Modi has been the posterboy of Hindutva, he was supposed to be championing all kinds of signs and symbols representing Hinduism, regardless of whether they break the law or not. That’s one danger of playing with amorphous things like religion — you hitch your pony to one carriage and suddenly you may find yourself dragging a whole caravan.
But then you have some folks who say Mr Modi ordered the demolitions of these illegal structures to present a cosmetic ‘secular face’. Criticism from this quarter is about pretending to be a ‘secular’ chap. In other words, Mr Modi is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.
Our take on Mr Modi’s actions against these ‘organic temples’ that broke the law is that he’s done the right thing. Perhaps it’s easier for him to play Demolition Man with ‘Hindu structures’ because his rapport with Hindutva and Hinduism is uncontested. Perhaps it’s more difficult. But he’s done it. And for that he deserves our unbiased kudos.