From accessories to temples, Indian politics has seen it all from their Bhakts. A temple in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India is not scandalous, but the fact that it took so much time for it to come up is more shocking. Modi likes to take selfies and his face is used noticeably in all government initiatives. In February 2015, some Modi supporters built a temple with his statue as the God in a village located around 300 miles from Ahmedabad. However, the temple was dismantled after a rap from Modi himself. Last year, he was in the news after Khadi India used his image in place of Mahatma Gandhi on its calendar. However, the opposition alleged that the PM did it purposely. It didn’t stop here. After the completion of three years of Modi government at the Centre this year, BJP is celebrating ‘Modifest’ across India, which has gone unnoticed by the party leaders and people. Most of the places only the volunteers were seen and no other visitor and lumpsum money were 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.
His worshippers are one step ahead of him when it comes to glorifying their leader’s lord. A temple in the name of Modi will be built on five acres of land in the Sardhana area of Meerut where the PM’s admirers can worship. A 100-foot statue of Modi would be installed there. Five acres of land has been bought on Meerut-Karnal highway. A huge statue of Modi will be installed in the temple. The temple will take two years to complete and its bhoomi pujan would be held on October 23. The estimated expenditure of ₹10 crore would be generated out of public donations.
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 work for the people. Sometimes, when they don’t project themselves on their own, their followers do that to show their devotion for the leaders. In 2013, Puducherry government proposed to offer subsidized cement to low and middle income group people and named 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 Thirunindravoor, Chennai.
A couple that had been an ardent of the late actor MGR built this temple in his memory. 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 constructed the temple in his honour, 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’s temple is located at Satyanarayan ki tekri in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. It was constructed 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. She 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 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 worshipper. In South Kolkata there is a temple, which is deeply devoted to megastar of Bollywood Amitabh Bachchan. There is a specially carved out chair (from movie ‘Aks’) on which a photo of Big B is kept and his shoes. On 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 the current crop of movie stars, Joseph Vijay are worshipped as demi-gods today. Fans garland their posters and throw flowers, coins and cash notes when their heroes appear on screen in 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 politicians and movie stars, building temples and deifying them. Hero-worship gages new statures in India.
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