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  India   All India  08 Mar 2017  PM Narendra Modi magic missing in Varanasi?

PM Narendra Modi magic missing in Varanasi?

THE ASIAN AGE. | AMITA VERMA
Published : Mar 8, 2017, 1:30 am IST
Updated : Mar 8, 2017, 6:41 am IST

People are hurt key issues weren’t addressed despite PM rallies.

Poll officials wait to leave for election duty at an EVM distribution centre in Varanasi. (Photo: PTI)
 Poll officials wait to leave for election duty at an EVM distribution centre in Varanasi. (Photo: PTI)

Varanasi: At 6.30am, Dashashwamedh Ghat is slightly more crowded than usual. Top leaders of all parties have left Varanasi but workers and outstation journalists still crowd around for a dip in the Ganga. The cacophony and the election blitzkrieg may be over but Varanasi has yet to experience a sense of euphoria this time.

The campaign, marked by meetings, rallies and roadshows by the country’s top leaders, has failed to assuage feelings of people who are hurt their issues were not addressed.

 

Acronyms like SCAM and KASAB, slugfest over shamshan-kabristan, Kairana, Gayatri Prajapati and even promises of smartphones and pressure cookers are of no concern to the people of Varanasi

“Hamara business barbaad ho gaya, kahe ki khushi?” asks Raju Nishad as he haggles with a customer over the rates for a boat ride. He is one of the 10,000-odd registered boatmen in Varanasi who are upset with the BJP’s ‘brand of development’. “The BJP’s e-boats are lying in a dump. Charging the batteries is a problem, forcing majority to go back to the conventional boats.” Mid stream, he points to the filth in the Ganga. “Abhi tak yeh bhi nahin hua.”

 

He also complains about ‘flat lights’ installed on the Ghats. The yellow bulbs that earlier lit up the Ghats are now replaced with lights that cast “a ghostly white glow”.

“As sab flat ho gaya. Koi tourist photo lene boat par nahin aata. Modi ji ko kya pata ki hamara business barbaad ho gaya,” he says.

Another cause for resentment is the BJP’s plan to paint the Ghats pink to give a sense of uniformity.

“Each of the 87 Ghats has a unique character which differentiates one from the other. This is not a school dormitory that should be painted in the same color,” says Jamuna Prasad, a local ‘panda’.

Demonetisation has hit Varanasi just as badly as elsewhere but people are wary of talking about it for fear of attracting backlash.

 

Mohd Ansari, a local weaver, who shut down his loom in January, says “my stock is still lying unused”. “I also had to relieve all my employees.”

But what has hurt people the most is the denial of ticket to ‘Dada’ - Shyamdev Roy Chaudhary, a seven-term MLA from Varanasi South. “The BJP has insulted Dada. He is the most loved and honest MLA Varanasi has ever seen. People here have realised that ‘jo nahi hai Dada ka, who kahan hai aapka’” B.S. Agarwal, a  medical practitioner, said.

The party tried to make amends with Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking Dada to the Kashi Vishwanath temple, BJP national president Amit Shah meeting him and UP chief Keshav Maurya visiting his home. But Dada stayed away from the election campaign.

 

“I would have given up the seat myself. Where was the need to insult me by announcing another candidate? I feel hurt,” he said, narrating a feeling which appears to be shared by many in Varanasi now.

Tags: scam, gayatri prajapati, demonetisation, amit shah
Location: India, Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi (Benares)