‘For the love of Modi’: Tamil Nadu BJP worker builds temple for PM
The small tiled structure in Erakudi village under Thuraiyur block has created a buzz locally as the ‘NaMo Temple’ and people have been coming to visit it from nearby areas.Updated: Dec 25, 2019, 19:20 IST
P Shankar wanted to do something to show his affection and love for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
So, the 50-year-old worker of the Prime Minister’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Tamil Nadu’s Trichy district built a temple to honour and worship him on his farm.
The small tiled structure in Erakudi village under Thuraiyur block has created a buzz locally as the ‘NaMo Temple’ and people have been coming to visit it from nearby areas.
“It all started before the Lok Sabha elections. As I wanted Modi to become the Prime Minister for the second consecutive time, I was determined to build a temple on my land,” Shankar, who also serves as the president of the Erakudi Village Farmers Association, said.
He says he built the temple to show his affection for Modi for implementing several schemes, including the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PMKSN).
“After the PM announced the PMKSN assistance for farmers, I was very happy. I had chosen a piece of my land to build a temple for him and I had been toying with the idea since 2014 though,” he proudly says.
“I put my own hard-earned money Rs 120,000 to build the NaMo Temple for our PM. I did not borrow a single rupee from anyone for this temple,” he adds.
The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admissions to medical and dental colleges across the country implemented by the Modi government was another reason behind him building the temple.
“My daughter secured 1105 marks in the Plus Two public examination. When she wrote the medical entrance, she failed by two marks. The private medical colleges demanded Rs 50 lakh for admission. So, I admitted her in Anna University in computer science engineering discipline,” Shankar says.
“After the implementation of NEET, a candidate who has the right capability is getting admissions. NEET has destroyed the illegal medical admission business,” he says.
When asked about the idol, he says it is made up of cement and stone.
“I tried to order a metal idol for the temple. However, people said it would cost around one lakh. Then I planned to do it with granite stone, the makers demanded Rs.80,000. As I am a poor farmer, I decided to go with two-feet high stone and cement at a cost of Rs.10,000. The rest of the money has gone into building the structure,” he noted.
The temple also has photographs of AIADMK leaders MG Ramachandran, J Jayalalithaa and chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami as Shankar says he admires them and “any way they are our allies.”
Shankar says he would perform the “kumbabishekam” – a ritual to open temples – by inviting top leaders of the BJP. Though he is hoping that the Prime Minister himself would inaugurate the temple, but “more realistically” he will invite state leaders.
“On December 22, we celebrated our grandson’s second birthday here before the temple. I have not opened it officially by conducting the kumbabishekam. I am about to invite top BJP leaders like H Raja, Pon Radhakrishnan to open the temple once the local body elections are completed. Though will be happier if the PM himself does it,” he adds.
The BJP worker says he has been performing rituals at the temple four times every day.
“I was thinking about appointing a priest to do rituals. But it may cost much. So, I am doing poojas on my own,” Shankar, who considers “Modi as a God who has come to develop India”, says.
He also says footfall to his temple is steadily increasing in spite of not being formally opened and the news about it has spread only by word of mouth in the past few days.
“At least 150 people have visited my temple in the past three days from neighbouring villages. Women are the majority who visit the NaMo Temple,” he says.
Shankar has also been guarding the temple during the night as protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) are intensifying across the state.
“CAA is good for the nation. Our Prime Minister has promised that it would not affect any Indian citizen. But still, people are politicising the issue for their gain. As protests are frequently occurring against CAA, I was told that people opposing CAA would demolish my temple. So, I am sleeping in front of the temple at night despite heavy fog and cold,” he says.
Asked what he would like to see Modi do next, Shankar says he hopes that rivers in south India are linked to prevent the recurring drought and flood in the region.
“Though I have 10 acres of land, I have not been very successful at farming due to water availability issues. After I got the drip irrigation implementation subsidy, I am managing to do farming activities. However, it is essential to link south Indian rivers for avoiding droughts,” he says.
Shankar, who has been growing his hair and beard since the national elections were announced in March this year, says he will also tonsure his head at the Palani Murugan Temple in Dindigul district.
“When I started the building work at the time of LS polls, I prayed to Lord Murugan that he should shower his blessings for our PM to rule the nation again. I believe in answer to my prayers, Lord Murugan has also favoured the PM to form the government. Soon, I will walk 180km to reach Palani for tonsuring my head,” he says.
The spokesperson of the BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit, M Kanimozhi, says Shankar’s ‘devotion’ is proof that PM Modi has made an impact on farmers and party’s grass root level workers.
“Shankar is an ordinary farmer and he does not hold any high post in the party. A primary member has shown his love for our PM by building a temple,” Kanimozhi told HT.
“He did not even inform the party before he decided to build this temple. He has done this at his own effort. This shows BJP is growing in Tamil Nadu. Our leaders will decide about the visit to the temple,” she says.
Chennai-based political analyst Aazhi Senthilnathan said this kind of ‘idol worship’ of political leaders is an old phenomenon and just a cultural expression.
“In Tamil Nadu, the practice of erecting temples for individuals was derived from Naattar Vazhakku Vaazhviyal – folk tradition. When a fan or party worker starts to see his favourite actor or political leader as equal to the god, he/she starts to build temples as a devotee,” Senthilnathan said while speaking to HT.
“Tamil Nadu has so many of such temples for leaders like late CMs AIADMK founder MGR, DMK leader M Karunanidhi, and AIADMK’s late general secretary J Jayalalithaa. A few may have constructed a temple merely for the sake of drawing attention,” he points.
Shankar though stoutly denies any such suggestion and says he has done all of this just to “express his love for PM Modi”.