HindustanTimes Sun,28 Dec 2014

1 lakh Kashiites, 108 Brahmins, three statues waiting for Modi

Manish Chandra Pandey and Pawan Dixit, Hindustan Times  Varanasi, April 24, 2014
First Published: 01:19 IST(24/4/2014) | Last Updated: 01:24 IST(24/4/2014)

Kashiites, legends say, are of three types —Alhad the motor-mouth, Phakkad the happy-go-lucky and Malang the lost one, a marijuana consumer in most cases.

On the eve of the arrival of the BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi on Thursday to file his nomination papers, the Sangh Parivar wants to accord a hero’s welcome to its poster boy. And it’s busy ensuring that all three Kashiites are in attendance.

“A mammoth gathering of nearly one lakh-plus will welcome Modiji, who’s going to hold a three-km road-show before his nomination,” said Sanjay Bharadwaj, a local BJP leader.

Modi, who isn’t scheduled to visit any temple during or after filing his papers here, will, instead, garland three statues: BHU founder Madan Mohan Malaviya —whose retired high court judge grandson Giridhar Malaviya will be among his four proposers — Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Swami Vivekananda.

But nearly 108 Brahmins will also perform a religious ceremony and “bless” Modi here.

The BJP has also got the nod of Channu Lal Mishra, a renowned singer, to be among his proposers, besides boatman Veerbhadra Nishad and weaver Ashok – he goes by his first name. The last two names were finalised late on Wednesday evening.

However, there’s no tea seller among Modi’s proposers even though several tea sellers were anxious to get into the team.

Kaushal Mishra, head of the political science department of BHU, told HT that Modi was aiming at conveying a larger message by garlanding the three statues.

“By garlanding Malaviyaji’s statue Modi is trying to communicate his dream of making the country literate.”

Mishra said there’s a political context to the garlanding as well. By garlanding Malaviya and Patel statues, Modi will also try to woo the Brahmins and Patels (kurmis), whose support is crucial in Varanasi.

On Swami Vivekananda, Mishra said, “Before going to Chicago and returning as Vivekananda, Swamiji was known as Narendra Nath Dutt. Kashi believes that Narendra turning into Vivekananda happened due to his visit here.”

Besides top RSS leaders, senior BJP leaders, such as Modi’s key strategist and UP in-charge Amit Shah, state BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Ravi Shankar Prasad, are also expected to be present.

BJP chief Rajnath Singh’s supporters indicated that Singh too was planning a visit to Varanasi, either for the nomination or to address a public meeting here in Modi’s support.

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