Even before the first votes were cast in Varanasi, the team working for BJP’s Prime Minister-in-waiting, Narendra Modi, had begun chalking out a development plan for the city. It also, it seems, gave the other stakeholders a hope that the party would walk the talk in the other areas of Purvanchal region also.
Varanasi, which sent Modi to Lok Sabha — he also won from Vadodara in Gujarat — will be centre to the BJP’s plan of taking its ‘development’ plank further into Purvanchal and, as and when time comes, reap its political benefits.
“When Modi came to Bhadohi for a rally (March 4), a member of his team got in touch with me seeking a book that I had edited in 1986. The book was a special edition on Varanasi for magazine ‘Sanmarg’ and dealt with issues relevant for revival of various aspects of Varanasi such as river Ganga, the culture, its handicrafts and several others,” said Prof Kaushal Kishore Mishra, head of department (political science), Banaras Hindu University (BHU).
The contributors to the book were luminaries in their respective fields like Pandit Kishan Maharaj, Vidya Niwas Mishra, Acharya Baldev Upadhyaya and Pupul Jaykar (all Padma Vibhushan), besides several others including poets, literateurs, historians and artists. “So, it is clear that the man is not making empty noises. Rather he is serious about coming up with a development plan for Varanasi,” said Mishra.
Eastern UP Chamber of Commerce chairman, Govind Saran Darbari, said: “Even before the campaigning could end, I started getting intimations from his (Modi’s) team and some other BJP leaders asking me to keep my blueprint for development of the region ready. I told them that the blueprint has been ready with me for the past 10 years, but nobody has bothered to look at it. I am hopeful now as this election seems to have broken the boundaries of caste, community and religion.”
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Darbari further said that through his informal channels, he has come to know that Varanasi will be one among at least half-a-dozen cities across eastern India that will be taken up by the BJP as model cities to be showcased as model for development.
Contacted, BJP’s Kashi region president Lakshman Acharya said people voted for BJP having seen the Gujarat model. “Similarly, Varanasi will be the model, which will pave way for similar development in Purvanchal,” he added.
Darbari, however, said that with the Samajwadi Party being pushed into a corner after today’s results, he was not expecting a dream change within a short time. “They will try to block the new central government’s programmes,” he said.
Historically, Purvanchal has always given way to a wave be it the post-emergency period or the 1984 elections or the last ascendancy of the BJP in the 1990s. However, the region has remained neglected and backward.
The Samajwadi Party did exceedingly well in the region in the 2012 Assembly polls. It also got a few ministers from the region. But the region has not got any project worth its name in the last two-and-a-half years.
Allahabad University Teachers’ Association president, G C Tripathi, said: “The difference between today’s results and the one after the emergency was that the latter was a ‘negative’ vote arising out of anger. Today’s results are a ‘positive’ vote for development.”