Sunday, April 05, 2015

An article on Varanasi

This piece is worth reading. Its about Varanasi. For those who came in late, it also happens to be the constituency of PM Narendra Modi. The headline screams, Swachh Bharat: PM Modis promise of cleaning and beautifying Varanasi doesn't appear to be an empty one.

Doesn't appear to be an empty one. Right. The insinuation is something else. But lets go on.

Two paras in, we find this gem:

Look how Assi Ghat (the southernmost of the 84 ghats of Varanasi which is known to accommodate over 20,000 people during festivals like Shivratri) looks today — as clean as a new one. Modi is here and changes are visible. There may be some delay in work but transformation of Varanasi looks inevitable," says Praveen Kumar, an employee of Banaras Mercantile Bank, whose T-shirt with Mai Narendra Damodardas Modi emblazoned all over doesn't exactly leave you wondering about his political leanings. 

Nothing wrong with it, but how difficult is it to put up a picture of the ghat without slogans emblazoned across it? Twitter has been abuzz with it for a while now, but hey...

That is followed by the mandatory lines which say, oh, this work began long ago. Remember, how they never tire of telling you that Gujarat was progressing because of Gujaratis - yes, this is exactly along those lines. 

There are those like Deepak Madhok who runs the Sunbeam chain of schools in the city who will tell you that the cleaning of Assi Ghat began before Modi chose Varanasi as his constituency. "Our school kids were working on the cleanliness of the ghats on a war footing since September while Modi came in December," avers Madhok. "When our boys and girls were doing the work on Assi Ghat, not a single BJP man visited the place and the moment Modi entered Banaras, throngs of them came in overnight and  .. 

The rest of it is secular balancing act - with a picture of some naysayers and doomdayers and so on. 

Scepticism of course can be found in generous doses, and from predictable quarters. "Third-grade material is being used for all the construction work. Besides, most of the work is the initiative of the state government and the Nagar Nigam. Where is Modi's contribution in all this," asks Congress' Ajai Rai who had contested the elections against Modi in 2014 and is a five-time MLA. Remind Rai about the regular visits by ministers from Delhi, such as the one last week by Union finance minister Aru .. 

About a 150 kilometers away enroute to Lucknow, from Varanasi, are two constituencies of Rae Bareli and Amethi - the pocket boroughs of the Nehru families next generation. These two constituencies are great examples of how a prestigious constituency nurtured across generations by the leading political family can progress. They have good roads, great human development indices and in a largely rural constituency, one can find, reasonably urban amenities. Except that they are not. The roads there are bumpy, there is hardly any progress discernible. 

But the article writer did not find it useful to point this out. Space constraints - oh yes, surely in a newspaper. But on the internet? There is no space constraint. Why not put up pics and compare? Oh, well, that may show up Rahul baba and Sonia madam in poor light and then again, why take the risk with making madam unhappy. 

As they say, the glass can be seen as half empty and half full. In this case as half dirty and half clean - and especially if the glass was fully dirty when it began, then, some credit can be given to the guy trying to clean it  - and hey, he has reached half way.  

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