Lok Sabha elections 2019 enters into its last phase. In the last leg of this grandiose electoral exercise, PM Modi’s constituency – Varanasi, will be going to the polls too. Recently, in an address to the people of Varanasi, the MP Modi had said that with “Jan Bhagidari we will further accelerate the development process in the city”. It is a given that there has been a progressive discourse regarding the development of the city.
We analyse the development trajectory of Varanasi, on various pointers, under the tenure of its MP Narendra Modi.
Weavers and traditional craftsmen
Varanasi is famous for word-class silk Banarasi sarees, and lakhs of weavers, for generations, have been earning their livelihood by weaving those beautiful sarees. Notably, these sarees come with a GI tag too. Apart from weavers, there are other traditional craftsmen employed in textiles, cottage and carpet industries. Not only Varanasi but nearby areas like Bhadohi and Mirzapur have too been developing as centres of international fame for weaving and carpet industries in recent years.
PM Modi inaugurated Deendayal Hastkala Sankul – a trade facilitation centre for handicrafts, which will help traditional artisans and weavers get an international exposure. In January earlier this year, the PM had inaugurated 55 outlets under the Deendayal Hastkala Sankul, which would serve as centres of Excellence.
Apart from Deendayal hastkala sankul, myriad other measures have been taken by Modi government for the betterment of lives of artisans, craftsmen and weavers. For instance, a world class laboratory in IICT Bhadohi to minimise the defects in the carpet products, a Pehchan ID Card for weavers to cut out middlemen, a carpet engineering program in IICT Bhadohi for the retention of next generation of weavers – all these have been put in place to create a conducive environment.
Brand new infrastructure in Varanasi
Since Varanasi is an old city with cultural importance apart from being a budding centre for trade in the Poorvanchal region, it is natural that it attracts a lot of crowd who are a mix of pilgrims, traders and tourists. With that in mind, the ring road inaugurated by PM Modi, which bypasses the city, would cut down congestion significantly. The phase-1 of Ring road was completed in November 2018. As a result, the traffic movement across the city will be hassle free, since a lot of heavy vehicular traffic inbound from neighbouring areas will be diverted from the city.
Another major development under PM Modi in Varanasi was development of the magnificent 17 km plus long airport road which is called the ‘Gateway of Varanasi’. The 4-lane smooth road will significantly cut down the travelling time between the city and the airport.
For the first time, India has tapped its inland waterways for container movement. The development of the first multimodal terminal on an inland waterway in Varanasi under Modi government, is a historic achievement for Varanasi and for the country as a whole.
Varanasi with a government hospital (IMS-BHU), has been the first choice for patients coming from Bihar and Eastern UP, seeking quality treatment. Considering this situation, IMS-BHU was given AIIMS-like status under PM Modi. Also, the two dedicated cancer hospitals inaugurated by PM Modi will provide a big relief to cancer patients from nearby areas and Varanasi, since they will not have to go to Mumbai any more, seeking treatment for cancer.
Lakhs of commuters visit Varanasi every day and the railways is a significant mode of transport. Varanasi saw major developments in railways under PM Modi. India’s fastest engineless train Vande Bharat connects Varanasi and New Delhi now. If one sees the refurbished Manduadih station, it looks like an airport. A lot of media reports have showered praises on the revamped railway station in Varanasi.
Culture and tourism
Varanasi is the abode of Hindu civilisation famous for the Kashi Vishwanath temple, home of the most treasured jyotirlinga. Kashi Vishwanath Dham inaugurated by PM Modi will transform the landscape in and around the temple, freeing it from unwanted clutter and congestion. Now with this development, a direct link is being established between Ganga river and the temple.
Any talk of Varanasi is incomplete without its beautiful and ancient ghats. Ghats of Varanasi are cleaner than before. The murals of Assighat have further added to the beauty of those ghats. Under HRIDAY yojana, life stories of historical luminaries from Kashi such as Kabir, Tulsidas, Ravidas, Munshi Premchand, Bhartendu Harishchandra and Jaishankar Prasad were brought to life through mural paintings.
Thus we can see how Varanasi is being transformed into a modern city under its MP Modi, keeping its ancient roots alive.
If we see other similar star constituencies like Rai Bareilly and Amethi, they have not seen commensurate development, as Varanasi has seen in the last 5 years. Also, it is no secret that their MPs Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were at the helm of affairs for 10 years at the centre. There are many media reports which detail the abysmal conditions of those constituencies.
Clearly star constituencies of Gandhi family, has remained neglected in terms of development. But if one sees Varanasi, it stands apart. In last 5 years, undoubtedly, Varanasi has seen a massive development drive.