Prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had announced his candidature from the constituency of Varanasi in 2014. After winning the elections, he said:
“I am indebted to Rajnath Singh for making me to contest from Varanasi. I have a dream for Kashi, which only the people of Varanasi can fulfill. I am now a son of Varanasi.”
Modi had then also visited Varanasi to offer prayers at the famous Kashi Vishwanath temple.
However, in a recent turn of actions, it has been reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may ditch Varanasi and pick another temple town of Puri to contest the Lok Sabha election this year. According to Pradip Purohit, BJP MLA from Odisha’s Padampur assembly constituency, Modi may contest elections from Puri constituency.
“There is 90 percent possibility of Prime Minister Narendra Modi contesting from Puri seat,” Pradip Purohit told ANI.
“Prime Minister had sought blessings of Lord Jagannath and won from Varanasi in 2014. People of Odisha state want the Prime Minister to fight elections from Puri. The party leaders and maybe Prime Minister Modi himself would like to contest from Puri,” the BJP MLA said.
Earlier, state BJP president Basant Panda had also expressed his views that the Odisha unit of the party had proposed to field the prime minister from Puri. During a recent interview to ANI couple of days ago, Modi had also ducked the question on whether he would be contesting next from Puri. He had subtly avoided answering the same by saying,
“Media persons also should get some work.”
The party strongly feels that Modi’s candidature from the state will further brighten its chances in Odisha, which is ruled by BJD. Assembly elections in the state are due along with the Lok Sabha polls.
Several media houses have been reporting how the people of Varanasi have been completely disillusioned with the false assurances made by the Prime Minister during his campaign prior to being elected from the constituency. Four and a half years ago, Varanasi witnessed a surge in political attention with Modi contesting the general elections as he had forayed into the city with a basket of promises relating to the welfare of the city and its residents.
However, a closer look at what the BJP and Modi set out to do in the run-up to the 2014 elections reveals that there are several areas where the government struggled to live up to its poll promises.
GANGA CLEAN UP
The pet project and the poll campaign’s leading promise, the clean up of Ganga, was a major factor behind Modi’s win in Varanasi. The BJP committed to ensuring the cleanliness, purity and uninterrupted flow of the Ganga on priority. However, the Modi government seems to have failed in fulfilling it. It has been nearly end of the tenure, but the river has not been cleaned yet.
TRADE FACILITATION CENTRE
The primary purpose of the centre was to bring all the weavers and artisans under one roof and provide them with the necessary assistance for bolstering their marketing activities in domestic as well as international markets, and carrying forward the rich tradition of handlooms in Varanasi. The government had further anticipated that buyers would come, select and buy from the varieties available at one place. It was also decided to bring tourists to the place to popularise local handloom products.
However, it has nearly been a year, and the weavers and artisans are far and away from the centre.
“The place is currently being used for exhibitions and other events organized by the government. It has not yet started serving the purpose for which it was built,” said Nitesh Dhawan, Assistant Commissioner, Handloom and Textile Department of Uttar Pradesh.
In 2016, Modi visited Varanasi’s famous Assi ghat on the occasion of Labour Day, and made the announcement that battery-powered e-boats would be distributed to boatmen. He said that the move was not only aimed at boosting the economic growth of the city, but would also make the environment cleaner.
However, the environment-friendly boats doled out by the government are yet to traverse the muddy waters of the Ganges. Of the 11 boats distributed on the occasion, none are currently in use.
Nearly three months after winning from the Varanasi constituency, Modi visited Japan. He commenced the trip by signing a pact to develop the ancient temple town as a “smart city”, with the cooperation and experience of Kyoto.
A year later, Japanese PM Shinzō Abe visited Varanasi with Modi. Officials from Kyoto also visited the city to analyse the prospects of development and a reciprocal visit was undertaken by the Indian side to learn how the local authorities in Kyoto function.
Almost four years have passed and the city still awaits development on the lines of Kyoto.
OTHER PROMISES THAT REMAIN UNFULFILLED:
Apart from the mentioned promises and projects, there were some other ‘off the page’ promises which included:
- Metro Rail Project
- Six-lane Highways
- Ring roads
- Satellite towns
- Round-the-clock water
- Electricity and Broadband
- Solid Waste Management Systems
- Bhojpuri Film City
- International spiritualism-cum-philosophy centre
- Battery Operated Cars
- Global E-commerce-driven mart for handloom and handicrafts
It’s been nearly five years, and the people of Varanasi have been left with mere slogans and “coming soon” trailers.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Modi contested from Vadodara in Gujarat and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. After winning in both constituencies, he decided to quit his Vadodara Lok Sabha seat and chose to retain Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
An official confirmation of Modi’s next constituency is awaited.
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