Lok Sabha Elections 2019: In Allahabad, drawing strength from Lal Bahadur Shastri’s legacy to fuel hope for future
The voters of Allahabad, where polling in the sixth phase of Lok Sabha elections is being held on Sunday, are proud of their parliamentary constituency’s past but dismayed by the present.
Nostalgia is at a premium here, so much so that the traders of the British era municipal market in Chowk have preserved the wall writing inscribed during former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s Lok Sabha election campaign in 1957. The graffiti mentions the name of Shastri who coined the slogan ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ during his tenure as prime minister (1962-66).
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“We have maintained the former PM’s legacy in the hope that someday our problems will draw the central government’s attention,” says Anandji (Pappanji) Tandon, a garment trader in Chowk, who spotted the slogan some 15 years ago.
“When his grandson Adarsh Shastri contested the Lok Sabha election from Allahabad as an Aam Aadmi Party candidate in 2014, I informed him about this wall writing. But he lost the election and we lost all hopes that our problems will ever be resolved,” he said.
He claimed there were 5,000 traders in Chowk, Loknath, Rani Mandi, Bajaja Patti and Jawahar Square.
“Many of these traders sell handmade fans, wooden sieves and other traditional items used in Hindu and Muslim weddings. The other traders are engaged in wholesale garment, artificial jewelry, plastic, home furnishing, FMCG goods and cosmetic businesses. The sad part is that till date there is no drinking water facility for traders and customers in the Chowk area. Around 18 public taps have been encroached on by vendors. Likewise, there is no traffic management. The battery operated rickshaws have only added to the problem. Long hours of traffic jams in the festival season severely affect business. Customers now avoid coming to this market,” he said.
Another trader Ankit said Chowk was in the heart of Prayagraj, having many heritage buildings and famous eateries. Even Kotwali (police station) is located in the area. But whenever there is a traffic jam, local traders and vendors take up the role of the traffic police, he said.
“We need an effective traffic management system in Chowk, Ghantaghar and Johnstanganj. Security is another issue for traders in these localities. If there is a fire, there is no effective mechanism to ensure that fire tenders reach the spot quickly.”
Paper merchant Rajiv Gupta said traders feared that many heritage buildings and British era markets would be demolished after the election to give a fillip to the Smart City project.
‘The centuries old Loknath market, Bharti Bhawan library, Allahabad Bank building, Chowk Church are among them. If any harm is done to these buildings, Prayagraj will lose a piece of its history. We will get disconnected from our past. Encroachment is another issue in the City South markets. Vendors have encroached the platform constructed around the historic Neem tree,” he said.