The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Meet Modi’s new avatar

Ahmedabad, Sept. 6: He is ambitious — who isn’t'

He wants to be remembered as the “best chief minister” or the “chhote sardar”. But an incarnation of Ram'

Some of those who admire Narendra Modi think he is just that — a modern-day avatar of the “maryada purushottam”.

Such hero worship has even infiltrated the realm of artistic expression — like the idol of the caretaker Gujarat chief minister as an avatar of Ram with Lord Ganapati atop his shoulder aiming an arrow. “It is just a creative expression,” says idol-maker Rajendra Shinde. “It has nothing to do with any political affiliation.”

Shinde has already spent Rs 300 on the spectacles alone to make them look as real as the designer glasses that Modi wears. The idea behind making such an idol, he says, is to show a sequence in which the chief minister seeks guidance from the elephant-headed god to show him the right path.

For Modi’s party — the BJP — the right path is going all out. The party has gone into overdrive, displaying huge posters and banners with the picture of a beaming Modi.

Modi himself wants images of the burning Sabarmati Express to be splashed everywhere. So, banners showing images of the flaming train at Godhra have appeared all over the city, which clearly shows that the BJP is out to keep the riots on top of the minds of voters in the run-up to the Assembly elections.

The banners, with the slogan “Amaru Kuan” (who is ours), carries the BJP election symbol — the lotus — as well as the party’s name. Colourful posters have the picture of the S-6 coach in flames, along with a map of Gujarat with images of the riots.

Reports coming in from Vadodara suggest there is more to come during the Ganeshotsav, which begins next week. Several organisers are planning to showcase the Godhra carnage. The idea of depicting the massacre in the backdrop of the idol of Ganapati was discussed during meetings of mandals in the city.

Many idol-makers have been approached by festival organisers to create replicas of the burning train for display at pandals.

Police sources said they would not allow any inflammatory or derogatory exhibit that could cause tension in the violence-scarred state. But what about the banners showing the burning Sabarmati Express which have the ruling BJP’s name and symbol displayed on them'

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