Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed shock over their project, BJP workers shelved scheduled inauguration of a temple dedicated to Modi in Rajkot and also removed “Modi idol” from the premises on Thursday.
Modi tweeted on Thursday that he was “appalled” and “shocked” seeing reports about a temple being built in his name. The temple, opposite Hapaliya Park on Kotharia Road in Rajkot city, was built by Oum Yuva Group, an informal organisation of the BJP led by Rajkot BJP youth wing vice-president Shankar Patel.
Members of the group said that they later dismantled the temple following orders from Rajkot district collector. The collector, however, could not be reached for comments.
“When word came from the person whom we believe to be a ‘God’ (Modi), there was no question of disobeying it. We have removed the idol. This temple will now be dedicated to only Bharat Mata,” Patel, who runs a paan-cum-tea-stall near the temple, said. The temple is an encroachment as it stands on government land.
Patel said the group was disappointed but will follow instructions given by Modi. “We had worked day and night for this and now it will not happen. Therefore, disappointment is obvious. But Modi is in our hearts. We have called a meeting of our members in the evening to decide what to do with the idol. If one of us decides to install it in his home, nobody should have any objection,” Patel said.
The group spent Rs 1.7 lakh to get the marble bust sculpted by an artist from Orissa. Invites had been sent out stating that Union Minister of State for Agriculture Mohan Kundariya will inaugurate the temple on February 15 and Gujarat Water Supply Minister Vijay Rupani and other local BJP leaders will also be present. The inauguration was to take place along with a mass wedding ceremony for 11 couples from poor families.
“Though the temple’s inauguration stands cancelled, we shall go ahead with the mass marriage ceremony. We have been organising these weddings for the last 10 years,” Patel, whose stall had hosted a “Chai Pe Charcha” programme during the BJP campaign for 2014 Lok Sabha elections, added.
He further said that his group will respond positively to the call given by Modi to work for “Clean India” campaign and launch a cleanliness drive in the area soon.
In a series of three tweets, Modi disapproved of the temple saying, “Have seen the news about a Temple being built in my name. I was appalled. This is shocking & against India’s great traditions.”
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