He came, he conquered but did Modi see the crumbling Varanasi?

One has to wait till May 16 to see how much of the huge road show would convert into votes

deevakar

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.

Comments

 

Other News

NITI Aayog rolls out three year action agenda

 Even as a vision and a strategy agenda is in "advanced stages" of finalisation at NITI Aayog, the government think tank has released a draft three year action agenda for public consultation.  The draft action agenda, divided in seven parts and 24 chapters, proposes to reduce

It’s a cause of worry, says NHRC on killing of 25 CRPF troopers

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday said it was “disturbed” over the killing of 25 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel by Naxalites in Chhattisgarh on April 24. The troopers were attacked while on duty for securing road construction work in the Bur

99% complaints filed through Twitter resolved: BSNL

 Twitter Sewa unveiled by the ministry of telecommunications last year to resolve users’ complaints through micro blogging site Twitter has yielded fruitful results by resolving 99 percent of the complaints.   According to BSNL data, as on April 15, 2017, it has receiv

People of Delhi now hate Kejriwal: Vijay Goel

What is your perception about Arvind Kejriwal’s brand of politics?   In Delhi, after the BJP and the Congress, people wanted to give the Aam Aadmi Party a chance. However, after the Delhi assembly polls, his (Kejriwal`s) political fortune has been on the declin

BHEL’s biggest foreign power project takes off in Bangladesh

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited’s biggest export order, valued at Rs 10,000 crore for setting up 1,320 MW Maitree thermal power project in Bangladesh has taken-off following the issuance of the ‘notice to proceed’ by the developer.   BHEL said that it won a

For a free and open access

Mozilla is working on two separate goals in net neutrality. One is to bring everyone online; ensure that everyone has access to the internet. The other is to ensure that the network should remain open and diverse. We want people to have access to the whole diversity of the internet and not just in



Video

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter