A Congress party leader in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh has built a temple with an idol of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Shankar Rao, the legislator from Andhra Pradesh, told reporters that this is to show his gratitude to the Congress president for the Indian government’s decision to create a separate Telangana state.

In August last year, the government of India accepted the Congress party’s recommendation to form the 29th state of India by carving the state of Telengana from Andhra Pradesh.

"She is Telangana Talli (Mother goddess of Telangana)", said Rao who worships Gandhi’s idol.

The temple and idol will be installed at "Sonia Gandhi Shanti Vanam" or the peaceful abode, a location near Bangalore-Hyderabad highway that is owned by Rao’s family.

Rao had commissioned for a nine feet idol in dazzling bronze that weighs 500kg. The idol is sculpted in a style similar to Hindu goddess idols in south India - complete in silk sari, gold jewellery and crown, carrying a lotus in one hand with a beatific smile.

A clay prototype was displayed to reporters by Rao and his daughter of "Goddess Sonia".

The legislator from the ruling party told reporters that his act was not one of “sychophancy. I am a core loyalist of the Nehru-Gandhi family”, explaining his piety.

A Culture of deification

Taking a cue from Rao, Congress leaders in the Karimnagar district of Andhra Pradesh have also erected a make-shift "pristine shrine" or a "pavithra mandiram" for Sonia Gandhi as "Telangana Devatha" of goddess of Telangana on Sunday.

Local Congress leaders offered special prayers and broke coconuts, lit joss sticks and held special "aratis" or offerings of flames to the "deity".

Karimnagar Congress legislator Ponnam Prabhakar told reporters, "Sonia resides in our hearts as a goddess who helped birth Telangana".

South India has a culture of deification of film stars and politicians. In Tamil Nadu, shrines have been constructed by fans and followers of MG Ramachandran, former chief minister of the state and actress Khushboo.

Source: Al Jazeera