In Vadodara, Ganesh puja is being celebrated with a difference. And the difference is Modi — literally!
Life-size idols of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, carrying baby Ganesh on his shoulders or in his lap, were some of most interesting-looking idols that people brought home this year.
Some of the city pandals were also seen cashing in on Modi’s charisma with similar idols, with organisers and individuals “congratulating” Modi for his “thumping victory from Vadodara” by making him this year’s theme.
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Tea-vendor Kiran Mahida brought home a Ganesh idol that depicts Bal Ganesh playfully jumping on Modi’s shoulders. The life-size Modi idol is complete with a made-to-order cotton Kurta and saffron jacket, which was Modi’s attire on April 9 when he filed his Lok Sabha nominations from Vadodara, for which Mahida was a proposer. “I will put up this idol in my house against a backdrop of pictures of Modiji hugging me — which adorn my walls till today,” Kiran said.
The Vishva Kunj Society Ganesh pandal has gone a step further. The pandal has an idol of Modi, carrying an idol of Lord Ganesha on a plank, with the animated layout of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation’s (VMC) Vishwamitri Riverfront Project. The group has recreated the river course, intersecting the city, to depict how the renovated Vishwamitri would appear once the VMC goes ahead with its plan.
The organizers plan on showing a VMC presentation on a projection screen to the visitors to convey that the soon-to-be cleaned and restored Vishwamitri is Modi’s gift to Vadodara.
Kalpesh Naik, who is the Vishva Kunj Society president and an office-bearer of the BJP in the city ward, said, “We believe that Modiji’s plan to develop Vadodara must be showcased this year, so that people can see the gift he has given to this city. We had planned this theme much before the model code of conduct (MCC) came into effect. The dates for Ganesh Chaturthi were decided in advance all over the country. I do not think we are flouting any norms of the MCC since we have no political agenda. Our society is the most affected because Vishwamitri overflows during the monsoon, flooding our homes. We are setting up this pandal in our personal capacity and not on behalf of the party”
The Yuvak Mandal of Juni Gadi in the city has installed a Ganesh idol seated on the lap of a giant Modi statue, against the backdrop of the Parliament. A sensitive area, which has been known to witness communal tensions during Ganeshutsav, the pandal members say their theme is an “extended celebration” of Modi’s victory from Vadodara.
On Friday afternoon, the city police, accompanied by city Crime Branch officials, kept up a strict security cover around the procession of this group, as it brought the idol to its pandal, just a day after the area witnessed a high-voltage clash.
The city police is taking no chances during the festival days. Two additional companies of SRPF personnel have been deployed in the heart of the city. Police said the route of immersions, which passes through some of the sensitive areas, will be barricaded, besides installing additional CCTV cameras to a keep a watchful eye on possible mischief-mongers among the crowd.