The cleric Imam Shahi Saiyed reached the venue of fast in Ahmedabad and handed Modi the 'topi', which he refused to take.The cleric later draped his green shawl on Modi.
The headgear or traditional caps are usually worn by leaders whenever they are offered at public programmes and functions by citizens. It is believed that Modi's effort to project himself as an inclusive leader may have suffered another major jolt because of his act on stage.
As TV channels beamed the image of Modi returning the 'topi', BJP leaders were suddenly on the defensive. The Muslim face of the party, Shahnawaz Khan, had to put up with journalists's queries about Modi's strong reaction to the Maulana's gesture.
While Modi is trying to emerge as an acceptable leader on the national stage, his past still haunts him. He was Chief Minister when Gujarat witnessed one of the worst communal riots, termed as Gujarat genocide in which nearly 2,000 Muslims were killed and many women were raped & murdered.
The refusal of Modi to take the cap from Imam has perhaps shown that he is not yet comfortable with Islamic symbols in a country that has 200 million Muslims. Despite trying to change his hardline Hindutva image and emerge as a leader who bats for communal harmony, it is not easy for NaMo to walk away from his image, which is his biggest asset as well as worst enemy.