Varanasi came to a halt for nearly three hours on Thursday as thousands of people poured on to streets to catch a glimpse of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who staged a mega roadshow before filing his nomination papers for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Chanting “Modi, Modi, Modi”, lakhs of supporters accompanied the 63-year-old BJP leader on a three-hour long roadshow that moved through the streets of Varanasi in the blistering heat.Striking a emotional chord with locals, Modi said, “Ganga mata” has called him to the holy city and vowed to make this temple town on the banks of Ganges the world’s spiritual capital. Conch shells rang through the air and rose petals were showered on him as Modi, riding atop an open truck, waved to cheering people thronging the three km route from Lahurabeer to Kachhari.
People donning Modi T-shirts, Modi masks and holding the BJP flag lined up the arterial roads and on balconies and rooftops in sweltering heat to have a glimpse of the BJP prime ministerial candidate.Modi later tweeted, “I am emotionally touched & moved to see the enthusiasm & hardwork of our Karyakartas. We are very proud of you all.”
“My coming to Varanasi is like a child going to his Mother. I have come to this divine land on the call of Ganga Mata. Thank you, Varanasi. No words will describe the affection you have showered today. Truly touched,” Modi said in tweets in which he also thanked police officials and security forces who were there for the roadshow and the nomination procession.
Madan Mohan Malaviya’s grandson Giridhar Malaviya, a retired judge of the Allahabad High Court, and Padma Vibhushan Chhandu Lal Mishra, a noted classical singer of Varanasi, were among the four proposers of Modi.Unveiling a road map for the development of Varanasi, Modi wrote on his website that he envisioned the town as a world heritage site to draw both devotees and those who wished to understand and absorb India’s culture.
Lakhs join Modi’s Varanasi conquest
He said he has plans to clean up the town as well as the Ganga, besides the upliftment of the tourism sector and the welfare of weavers.Old timers did not recall witnessing such upsurge of people on the occasion of nomination filing of any candidate. Such massive gathering in the city was seen only in 1980s when tens of thousands of people came on streets to attend the funeral procession of Pt. Kamlapati Tripathi in which then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was himself seen walking on the streets of Varanasi.
After landing at Babatpur Airport, Modi took a chopper rise to BHU. After covering miles on an open jeep, he reached the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Gate to garland the statue of Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya and then flew by chopper to Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth (MGKV).It was not distance saving exercise because the distance between BHU Gate to Maldahiya crossing is around seven kilometers but the administration as well as the BJP knew that if Modi started his roadshow from BHU, it would take several hours and be difficult to maintain law & order situation.
From Maldahiya crossing near MGKV, after paying tributes at statue of Sardar Ballabh Bhai Patel, Modi started his roadshow for Mint House from where he went to Collector office for filing his nomination papers after garlanding the statue of Swami Vivekanand. Covering the distance of nearly two kilometres from Maldahiya to Mint House took more than hour as his cavalcade has to virtually crawl through the crowd. On both sides of roads, rooftops and balconies were packed with BJP supporters and onlookers who also showered rose petals on Modi.
As Modi’s convoy made its way through Muslim-dominated Nadesar, several people from the minority community also greeted the BJP leader who has been challenged in the electoral battle by AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal.“After coming here, I felt neither the BJP has sent me nor I have come here. I am here because Mother Ganga has called me. I am feeling like a small boy coming to mother’s lap. I pray to God to give me strength so that I can serve this city,” Modi, who is also contesting from Vadodara in Gujarat, said after the three-hour-long roadshow.
Thanking people for showering love and affection on him, Modi said he will try to make Varanasi the spiritual capital of the world and would make sincere efforts to ensure wellbeing of all section of the society including the weavers. “I am overwhelmed by support and love of people here.”The nomination processions of his main rivals, including Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Arvind Kejriwal and Congress’ candidate Ajay Rai, were impressive, but in term of numerical counts, Modi’s procession was far ahead --- at least 10 times bigger than the two rivals.
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