February 12, 2015 / 8:48 AM / 5 years ago

Narendra Modi appalled by temple built to worship him

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures upon his arrival at the inauguration ceremony of the thirteenth "Pravasi Bharatiya Divas" or Overseas Indians Conference at Gandhinagar in Gujarat January 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said he was appalled that some of his fans had built a temple to deify him, adding that such an act contradicted tradition.

Hundreds of his followers in Rajkot donated funds for a temple that features a seated statue of Modi and is topped out with a wind gauge shaped like a lotus, the symbol of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“I was appalled,” Modi said. “This is shocking and against India’s great traditions. Building such temples is not what our culture teaches us.”

Modi’s reaction unnerved some of those involved in the temple project, who plan to replace the statue of the prime minister with the idol of a Hindu god, but others were unfazed.

“We love Modi and worship him because he is the finest leader we have ever had,” said Paresh Rawal, an edible oil trader who donated the land for the temple.

Modi, the former chief minister of Gujarat, where the temple is located, swept to power last year in the biggest national election victory in three decades, and has since led his party to a string of state poll wins.

But the BJP suffered a dramatic election defeat in the capital this week, when it was trounced by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Reporting by Rupam Jain Nair; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Clarence Fernandez

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