CHURUMURI POLL: Right to demolish temples?

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a demolition drive of “illegally built temples” in the State. So far, 154 such temples have been pulled down down in Gandhinagar alone, including a Sai Baba mandir and a Hanuman shrine. Facing the axe are another 161 temples, a dargah, and a Christian prayer hall in BJP prime minister hopeful L.K. Advani‘s constituency.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishat (VHP) president Ashok Singhal has said “the Gujarat government is acting like Aurangzeb“, in an allusion to the 17th century Mughal ruler, while VHP spokesman Jay Shah has said “the demolitions are an attack on Hindu faith”. Modi’s loyalists, on the other hand, are quoted as saying the demolitions are an effort to paint himself as a “nationally acceptable, secular leader”.

Is it within the rights of a government to bring down illegal temples “to widen roads and beautify the city”? Or is it a consipiracy to push Hindus into a corner? Is it correct of VHP leaders to liken Modi to the much-reviled Aurangzeb? Or are they only revealing their animosity for him? Is Modi trying to enlarge his secular appeal or is he only carrying out his mandated duties as a democratically elected leader?