Prime minister Narendra Modi has done the right thing in making his displeasure over a temple being dedicated to him in Rajkot, Gujarat, public. Silence, even though not meant as endorsement, would have stuck easily to public memory and provided an unnecessary distraction from the actual work undertaken by the Modi government. The Modi government came to power on the planks of development and economic growth. But such acts by fringe groups erode public attention from the progress the government is making on redeeming its promises. It is a measure of the PM’s smarts that, even as he tweeted how he was “appalled” and “sad” by the development, he advised the people involved in the matter to take up activities under the Clean India campaign instead of building a temple for him—this would mean a more meaningful celebration of his vision, and at any rate, makes for better PR for the government.
Besides, such temples fuel personality cults—there are temples in the South, dedicated to movie stars and other public figures—something Modi should be wary of. Such a cult leaves him needlessly vulnerable as a leader, given every BJP defeat at the hustings is going to pushed into the public reckoning by opposition parties as an “anti-Modi” verdict. Better to nip the evil in the bud—and that’s what Modi has done.