One has to wait till May 16 to see how much of the huge road show would convert into votes
Deevakar Anand | April 25, 2014
To move around in Benaras (also known as Varanasi), it is better to let go off the four-wheeler.
And if you are anywhere near the congested markets and by lanes along the Ganga ghats, the only advisable mode of transport is by foot.
No wonder then that on April 24 two helicopters were kept ready to ferry BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, around the city – one to bring him from the city’s Babatpur airport to the Benaras Hindu University (BHU) helipad and the other at the police lines to take him back to the airport. For the city, he used a VVIP-secured convoy of SUVs and cars. The occasion: Modi was to file his MP nomination papers at the collectorate.
Varanasi came to a complete standstill as a tsunami of supporters and onlookers came out to see Modi. The only thing that could move or, rather, crawl amidst this was Modi’s convoy.
On Thursday morning, an estimated 30,000 people, most of them wearing identical saffron caps, gathered around the rather small area in front of BHU, adjoining the city’s popular Lanka market at 8.30 AM and waited for over two hours for the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate to come. He was to garland the statue of BHU founder late Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya before heading for the road shows and nomination for his MP candidature.
When he arrived, the VVIP security was thrown out of gear and men and women hopped to the cars in the convoy.
Several patients and their families who were headed towards the hospital located inside BHU were stuck. When Modi moved towards Kashi Vidyapeeth from where he was to go towards the city’s Mint road, only a few of those gathered at BHU gate could follow him as the roads were packed. According to some estimates, there were over one lakh people on Modi’s convoy path.
It was difficult for even journalists to follow his convoy. “You cannot move along with his convoy. There would be no space for your car to move. Unless you have another journalist colleague already waiting at the collectorate, you will not be able to cover it,” said one security officer.
If not for the lift on the bike of a local reporter and some shortcuts through extremely narrow lanes of Varanasi that took this correspondent to a flyover in front of the railway station, covering Modi’s march to the collectorate it would have been impossible.
There were several college-going voters who cheered for Modi on his way to file the nomination. One such young girl, Shreeja Mishra, a first-time voter and student of social science at BHU, said she will vote for Modi as he “has done great development in Gujarat”. Mishra, who is from Azamgarh, also has Modi supporters in her family. Asked if she thought Modi would salvage the crumbling Varanasi city, she said “she hoped so”.
How much of today’s crowd that thronged to see Modi’s convoy would convert into votes and how much of a fight the fledging AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal will put up will only be known on May 16. In Varanasi, on Thursday morning, however, it was difficult not to let one’s mind get besieged with the popularity Modi seems to enjoy here.
However, in Modi’s day-long dramatic “He came, he saw, he conquered” visit to Varanasi, little did anyone have the chance and space (literally) to ask if the person touted to be the next prime minister would know the deteriorating conditions of city’s handloom weavers that once was the mainstay of Varanasi’s economy.
For that matter, in the run up to the electioneering for the next lok sabha, the real issues that concern peoples’ lives has been lost in high-pitched political slogans.
Varanasi has a glorified social history. But beyond the legacies and its image as shown on tourism ministry websites, there is another story- that of the unchanged socio-economic status of a sizeable section that makes up the city’s composite culture.
The very design of Modi's 'high-fly' plan en route to filing his nomination underlines the city’s crumbling infrastructure and the inequalities that prevail here.
Bhadiya from Bhanpur Kheda village does not know her age. She has five children – the eldest one is 12-year-old while the youngest is an infant. Considering she got married in her teens – like most women in her village – Bhadiya must be in her 30s. After giving birth to five children she
Steel authority of India (SAIL) chairman PK Singh expressed confidence on improving the performance of the Maharatna PSU in the current fiscal because of a host of initiatives in almost every area of operations. During 45th annual general meeting of the company, Singh said the world steel as
Ministry of tribal affairs’ PSU— tribal cooperative marketing development federation of India limited (TRIFED) is contemplating to scale up marketing of tribal products through increase at its retail outlets throughout the country. TRIFED plans to scale up the retail marketing ac
It is not very often that Facebook advertises in newspapers. Last time it did was a year ago when it was promoting `free basics`— a limited internet service provided for free to subscribers of partnering telecom service providers. The internet platform’s reach is unparalleled vis-a-vis to tradi
In the resolution of the issue of VAT deferment for Indian Oil Corporation’s (IOCL) Paradip refinery in Odisha, IOCL has made VAT payment of Rs 2,935 crore to Odisha government. The refinery had commenced commercial operations in November 2015. The recent meeting between Odisha Chief M
Patch by patch, the lucent dome of the Taj Mahal is being plastered with a mixture of Fuller’s earth. It’s a treatment other parts of the monument of love – minarets, walls and pathways – have received over the years. These mud packs, of two millimetre thickness, are believed to tak