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Since Varanasi elected Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister’s constituency has had 129 visits by 31 ministers of the 64-member Council of Ministers between May 26 last year and June 30 this year. Additionally, an RTI reply from the district administration shows, there have been 144 visits by various senior officers, including 56 of the ranks of secretary and joint secretary, from 27 ministries to assess their respective projects.
Minister of State (MoS) for Railways Manoj Sinha has visited 52 times, spending time in Varanasi whenever he visits his own constituency, Ghazipur, which is next door. Recently, he inspected the progress of railway projects as well as of the Textile Ministry’s Trade Facilitation Centre and Crafts Museum project. The PM has directed Sinha and ministers Santosh Gangwar (Textiles, five visits) and Mahesh Sharma (Tourism and Culture, three visits) to be in the constituency office at least one a month and address the grievances of public.
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Minister for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises Kalraj Mishra has visited Varanasi 16 times, holding meetings for promotion of small industries in the region.
Modi himself has visited twice, on November 11 and December 25. He cancelled a visit last October and another this June. He is expected to be in Varanasi on Thursday to launch a number of development projects.
“Union ministers and officials have visited Varanasi to monitor implementation of central projects. With the frequent visits of Union ministers, visits of UP ministers too have increased,” said additional district magistrate (protocol) Om Prakash Chaubey.
The BJP’s Kashi region president Laxman Acharya said, “Since Modiji has chosen Varanasi as a backward region where to work, departments and officials have realised their responsibilities and are giving special attention to Varanasi.”
Among the high-profile officials to have visited Varanasi are principal secretary to the PM Nripendra Mishra and joint secretary A K Sharma, who stayed there on March 27 and 28 to review the progress of centrally sponsored projects. Both also visited Modi’s adopted village, Jayapur.
There have been three visits by Railway Board chairpersons, including two by Arunendra Kumar last year and one by his successor A K Mittal.
The Urban Development Ministry having prepared a blueprint for the integrated development of Varanasi, secretary Sudhir Krishna visited in June last year. Shankar Agrawal visited as director and later as secretary while two joint secretaries visited on separate occasions.
Other ministries from where officials have visited Varanasi include Women and Child Development; Skill Development and Entrepreneurship; Social Justice and Empowerment; Road Transport and Highways; Shipping; Health and Family Welfare; Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation; Power; Environment, Forest and Climate Change; Agriculture, Commerce; Tourism; Home; MSME; Culture; Finance; Defence; HRD; Petroleum and Natural Gas; Communications and Information Technology, Minority Affairs, Civil Aviation, Statistics and Programme Implementation, and AYUSH.