From accessories, goods, mercantile to temples, Indian politics has seen it all from their kind of Bhakts. Modi likes to take selfies and his face is used noticeably in all government and most of the private initiatives. In February 2015, some Modi supporters built a temple with his status as the God in a village located around 300 miles from Ahmedabad. However, the temple was dismantled after a blow from Modi himself. Recently, there were pictures in circulation where he was painted as Shivaji Maharaj and now ahead of Bengal elections, he has been given Rabindranath Tagore Bengali poet’s look.
He hit headlines when Mahatma Gandhi’s image was replaced with Modi on the calendar promoting Khadi. However, the opposition alleged that the PM did it purposely. It didn’t stop here. After the completion of three of the Modi government at the Centre, BJP celebrated ‘Modifest’ across India, which has gone unnoticed by the party leaders and people. In most of the places only the volunteers were seen and no other visitors. Huge money was wasted on these fests. Corruption does not mean getting caught in some scandal but this type of misuse of public funds is also corruption, and Modi needs to realize this. For self-glorification, he cannot waste public funds. From making suits embossing his name on it to feeding peacocks Modi always loved promoting himself. His worshippers are one step ahead of him when it comes to venerating their leader lord. They leave no stone unturned while comparing him to Lord Rama and Shivaji Maharaj. They often give him new titles like a saint, god, or worrier to Tiger. Modi is not the only leader in this country who has a mad fan following.
It seems politicians in India take such beliefs very seriously and never lose an opportunity to project their face and name, even at the risk of frustrating the public forever. Probably, they also believe that their photos can win more votes than their works for the people. Sometimes, when they don’t project themselves on their own, their followers do that to show their devotion to the leaders. While all politicians love to project themselves. In 2013, the Pondicherry government proposed to offer subsidized cement to low and middle-income group people and name the scheme after Congress president Sonia Gandhi. She was also in news in 2014 when a Congress legislator from Andhra Pradesh built a ‘Goddess Sonia’ statue, depicting her as ‘Telangana Talli’ (Mother of Telangana) to show his devotion towards the leader. Tamil actor, director, and former CM of Tamil Nadu, Late Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran has a temple dedicated to him in Thiruninravur, Chennai.
A couple that had been ardent of the late actor MGR built up this temple in memory of him. On one occasion, MGR was having a cool drink and left it unfinished. The remains were sprinkled on the ground as holy water. Just like the woman who made the temple in his honor, there were others who thought of him as a holy man. In India, we often think of politicians as miracle-makers. To a certain extent, what we have is a form of hero-worship. But it doesn’t last very long.
Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee temple is located at Satyanarayan tekri in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. It came up 17 years ago, ostensibly for the politician’s work for the cause of his mother tongue. Late Jayalalithaa’s image was displayed prominently on almost all schemes of her government in Tamil Nadu. Late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was omnipresent in the state. From salt to canteens to pulses to cement, several schemes were named after her. Not only this, her photo was prominently displayed on almost all items distributed by her government. Though the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister projected himself as a ‘development-oriented’ leader, Akhilesh never shied away from putting his image on most of the schemes of his government — be it Samajwadi cycles, school bags or laptops. Interestingly, Akhilesh also used the image of his father and former Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav prominently alongside him. As Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, BSP supremo Mayawati was attacked by the opposition for using public funds for building ‘elephant parks’ and statues of Dalit icons like Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram. Mayawati also became probably the first politician in the country to have installed her own statues alongside these icons in the state.
Not only politicians but the film stars too have their temples and worshippers, in South Kolkata, there is a temple, which is deeply devoted to the megastar of Bollywood Amitabh Bachchan. There is a specially carved out chair (from the movie ‘Aks’) on which is kept a photo of Big B, and his shoes. On a daily basis, the head priest recites the well-written ‘Amitabh Chalisa’ amid his ardent fans and worshippers.
There was a temple devoted to film star Khusbhoo, later torn down by her fans after she made controversial remarks on pre-marital sex in 2005. Some temples are hole-in-the-wall shrines with a small idol; others are like fan clubs for supporters. Tamil Nadu’s top heroes like Rajinikanth, and of the current crop of movie stars, Joseph Vijay is worshipped as demi-gods today. Fans garland their posters and throw flowers, coins, and cash notes when their heroes appear on screen in a frenzy imitating rituals of temple worship. Telugu film star turned politician late NT Rama Rao was an icon, especially for playing roles in films as the Hindu god Krishna. During his election campaign, supporters showcased large images from his films in his avatar as the god Krishna. In 1993, the matter went to the courts in Andhra Pradesh after someone complained that the depiction of “NT Rama Rao as an incarnation of Lord Krishna” amounted to “exhorting voters in the name of religion to vote for his Telugu Desam Party”. Film stars and politician have their own set of Bhakts, flattering fans in India give divine status to them, hero-worship is not new in India.