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UP polls approaching, Kashi corridor inauguration today by PM Modi has a ‘message’ from BJP

PM Modi will inaugurate Rs 800-cr Kashi-Vishwanath corridor today. With eye on 2022 polls, the BJP plans to organise 30 programmes in Varanasi in a month.

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New Delhi: After performing bhoomi pujan (ground-breaking) ceremony for Ram Temple in Ayodhya in August 2020 and inaugurating a 12-foot statue of Aadi Shankaracharya at Kedarnath Temple in November this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to inaugurate Rs 800-crore Kashi-Vishwanath corridor in Varanasi today.

This will be the third time during his two-term tenure that PM Modi will be inaugurating key development or construction works related to ancient Hindu shrines.

Nearly 2,000 saints and seers from across the country will be in Varanasi to attend the inauguration which comes ahead of the 2022 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, considered crucial for both Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. These include head seers of all 12 jyotirlingas, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, prominent religious leaders Mata Amritanandamayi, Dayanand Saraswati Maharaj, Avadheshanand Maharaj. They will be accompanied by BJP’s top leadership including half of the ministers in Modi’s cabinet, all chief ministers and deputy chief ministers of BJP-ruled states, and all UP government ministers.

PM’s itinerary

PM Modi will reach Kashi Vishwanath Temple from Lalita Ghat through a cruise boat. On arrival, he will collect the holy water of the river Ganga in a kamandal (a water pot) and walk on foot to the grabh-grih (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple. After offering jalabhishek to Lord Shiva’s idol, the PM will participate in a two-hour-long puja inside the temple. The jalabhishek will be carried out with the water collected from holy rivers across the country.

In the evening, the PM will participate in a grand aarti. The chief ministers and deputy chief ministers of all BJP-ruled states along with their spouses will also be present.

He will also attend the conference of chief ministers of BJP-ruled states to demonstrate the party’s model of good governance in a state like UP.

Meanwhile, the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government will showcase its own development model by holding a state cabinet meeting on 16 December inside the ancient and grand premises of Kashi Vishwanath temple as it looks to seek god’s blessings ahead of the polls.

A conference of mayors from across the country has also been scheduled for 17 December. Modi will address this conference virtually and mayors will deliver presentations on some of the best works carried out in their respective cities. On 24 December, the PM will address a conference of agricultural scientists. It too will be held in Varanasi. He will also interact with the farmers of Purvanchal.

“Kashi is one of the oldest temples of the country, whose importance is immense not only for the Purvanchal region but it is also one of the main pillars of faith for the entire Hindu society. Earlier we used to say mandir wahin bananyenge (Temple will be built on the same place), and now it is being constructed. Ram Mandir will be ready before 2024. Ayodhya is being redeveloped in such a way that when its construction is completed it will be a whole new city,” UP BJP vice-president Dayashankar Rai told ThePrint.

“It’s a matter of great fortune for the country that it has got a Prime Minister like Modi, who has taken this initiative of renovating all the major religious places of Hindu religion during his tenure. The struggle to build Lord Ram’s temple in Ayodhya lingered on for several centuries, but no prime minister could get the good fortune to facilitate its construction. The PM inaugurated Adi Shankaracharya’s temple by visiting Kedarnath Dham. Now, Kashi Vishwanath temple, which is also one of the 12 Jyotirlingas is being renovated which no one could do in 300 years after a similar initiative was undertaken by Rani Ahilya Bai,” BJP General Secretary Tarun Chugh said.

On Saturday, home minister Amit Shah said PM Modi was reviving Hindu centre of faith which were left humiliated for many years.

Also read: Three lessons for Modi-Shah in below-par performance in assembly polls

BJP to use occassion to bolster Modi’s ‘Dharma Purush’ image

Apart from the grand inauguration, the BJP has chalked out plans to organise 30 programmes in Varanasi in a month, which will begin on 13 December and continue till 14 January, the day celebrated as Makar Sankranti.

The BJP will install LED screens at 51,000 places across the country — from mandal to booth level — for live telecast of Bhavya Kashi-Divya Kashi, a programme on the lines of Mann Ki Baat, which will be held on 13 December. The party also plans to broadcast the event in 20,000 temples across the country.

Other events include forming a committee to distribute Kashi Vishwanath temple’s prasad in five lakh homes of Varanasi, along with a booklet containing all the information related to the construction of the temple, celebrating Shiv Deepawali with 11 lakh earthen lamps (more than the number of diyas lit in Ayodhya on Diwali), and prabhat pheris (morning walks) to raise awareness.

The BJP will also organise a youth conference in Varanasi, which will begin on 12 January, on the occasion of Swami Vivekananda’s birthday, and end on 14 January.

“When tens of millions of people watch the live telecast of PM Modi inaugurating a mandir in Kedarnath and dedicating the grand temple complex in Kashi, then, along with our supporters, even the common people’s faith in Modi gets stronger. They realise that this work was lying around for so many years but nobody took the initiative and it is only due to the immense willpower of PM Modi that the allure and grandeur of our temples is being restored in such a short span of time,” Rai said.

“Just tell me whether even a single temple has been constructed during the tenures of Congress governments? If Ayodhya, Kashi, Kedarnath, Vindhyavasini are all responsibility of Modi only, then whom will the Hindu vote for? Rai said.

Kaushal Kishore Mishra, Professor of Political Science at Banaras Hindu University said, “Modi’s image of a Vikas Purush (Development Man) will be further strengthened among Hindus as Dharma Purush (Man of Religious Values) whose electoral benefit is sure to benefit BJP”.

Also read: Kashi Vishwanath has become a construction site. Varanasi’s piousness is the cost

Purvanchal holds the key

PM’s upcoming visit to Varanasi is his fifth to eastern UP within a year, and it is just a small example of the BJP’s huge investment in Purvanchal.

It is often said that the path to returning to power in Delhi goes through Uttar Pradesh. Similarly, the path to return to power in UP traverses through the Purvanchal region. Two of the BJP’s biggest leaders — Modi and Yogi — were elected from this region.

In the last assembly election, BJP won 115 out of total 164 seats in the Purvanchal region. Samajwadi Party could win only 17 seats and BSP 15. In contrast, BJP had won only 12 seats in 2012 from this region and struggled elsewhere in the state. The SP, which had formed the government then, had won 85 seats from this area. So, saving its fortress in Purvanchal is not less than a ‘do-or-die’ situation for the BJP.

“The way BJP government has carried out development works like Purvanchal Expressway, airports in Kushinagar and Azamgarh, setting up medical colleges; makes it clear that our government is heavily invested in the campaign to transform lives of the people of a backward region like Purvanchal. All this shows that Modi does exactly what he says,” Rai said.

Also read: Jobs or moksha? Modi’s Kashi corridor in Varanasi comes at a price


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