Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday he was “appalled” by news of a temple being built in his name in Gujarat, prompting authorities to replace his idol with that of Bharat Mata (Mother India).
Plans to inaugurate the temple in Rajkot district’s Kotharia village were scrapped after Modi called the exercise shocking and against India’s great traditions.
"Building such temples is not what our culture teaches us. Personally, it made me very sad. Would urge those doing it not to do it. If you have time and resources, please devote the same towards fulfilling our dream of a Clean India," the PM tweeted.
Rajkot district collector Manish Chandra has now ordered the removal of Modi’s idol and cancellation of the inauguration, scheduled for Sunday.
The village panchayat allotted the land 10 years ago for a Bharat Mata temple but residents – and particularly BJP workers – decided to convert it into a temple for the PM after Modi assumed power last year.
“We felt sad we hurt Modi’s feelings. He is no less than God for us,” said Ramesh Undhad, who was behind building the temple with public donations of around Rs 4.5 lakh, with the idol alone costing R1.6 lakh.
The episode also found resonance in Uttar Pradesh, where state minister Azam Khan demanded a temple for Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. “If Modi can have a temple, so can Mulayam,” he said.
India has had a tradition of shrines for politicians, with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran being a few of the leaders who have temples in their name.