New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Monday that the government is not only restoring temples but also carrying out development work across the country. He was delivering an address at the inauguration of the Kashi Vishwanath corridor in Varanasi.
“Today’s India not only beautifies the Somnath temple, but is also laying thousands of km of optical fibre in the sea. Today’s India is not only renovating Baba Kedarnath temple but is preparing to send Indians to space on its own,” he said.
“Today’s India is not only building a temple of Lord Shri Ram in Ayodhya, but is also building a medical college in every district. Today’s India is not only giving a grand look to Baba Vishwanath Dham but is also building crores of pucca houses for the poor,” he added.
Modi is on a two-day visit to Varanasi, which is also his Lok Sabha constituency. The inauguration of the Kashi Vishwanath corridor comes weeks before Uttar Pradesh holds elections for its next government, with the BJP showcasing it as one of its major achievements.
Giving details about the temple, Modi said the earlier premises were spread over 3,000 square feet, which has now grown to 5 lakh square feet.
“Now, 50,000 to 75,000 devotees can come to the temple and temple premises,” he added.
Modi said Kashi is scripting history and “it is our fortune that we are present to witness it”.
In his address, Modi lashed out at the atrocities of the 17th-century Mughal emperor Aurangzeb while tipping his hat to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the 17th-century founder of the Maratha empire, and King Suheldev, the 11th-century king who defeated the invading army of Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud, a nephew of Mahmud of Ghazni, in present-day Bahraich (UP).
Although India has “witnessed destruction by someone like Aurangzeb, it has also witnessed the valour of leaders like Shivaji and King Suheldev Ahilyabai Holkar”, Modi said.
While Mughal emperor Aurangzeb tried to destroy Kashi, “Shivaji also rose”, he added.
“Tyrants attacked this city (Kashi), tried to destroy it. History is witness to Aurangzeb’s atrocities and terror, he tried to change the civilisation on the strength of the sword… He tried to crush the culture by fanaticism,” Modi said. “But the soil of this country is somewhat different from the rest of the world.”
“If Aurangzeb comes here, a Shivaji also rises. If any Salar Masud moves here, then brave warriors like King Suheldev make him feel the power of our unity. And even during the British era, the people of Kashi knew what happened to Hastings,” he added, in an apparent reference to the 1781 confrontation between the forces sent by the then British Governor General Warren Hastings and Banaras ruler Chait Singh.
Modi also mentioned Ahilyabai Holkar, the 18th-century queen of the Maratha Malwa kingdom who led armies in battle against invaders and is credited with building the Kashi Vishwanath temple.
“When Kashi Vishwanath temple was demolished, the reconstruction of the temple was done by Mata Ahilyabai Holkar. Her birthplace was Maharashtra and karmbhoomi was Indore… I pay my respects to her. She did a lot for Kashi 200-250 years ago,” he added.
He ended his speech with “Har Har, Mahadev” chants.
Modi addressed the gathering in Bhojpuri too and said the new India is proud of its culture and also has confidence in its ability.
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Ahead of the inauguration, Modi walked from river Ganga to the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir carrying the holy kalash. He performed pooja at the sanctum sanctorum before dedicating the revamped project to the nation.
Amid chants of “Har Har Mahadev”, Modi addressed a huge gathering and said Kashi had witnessed and experienced the making and unmaking of history.
Modi said the “inauguration of the redeveloped Kashi Vishwanath Dham will give a decisive direction to India”.
“It will lead to a brighter future. This complex is a witness to our capability, our duty. Nothing is impossible if you have the determination,” he added.
He made specific mention of the workers who toiled day and night to complete the project, and shared a meal with them. He also thanked the residents who inhabited the area before it was taken up for restoration work. He thanked Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the state’s BJP government.
“Even during Covid-19, the work did not stop here,” he said.
The Prime Minister then urged Indians to take three “sankalp” (pledges)” for the country: Sanitation, innovation, and commitment towards Atmanirbhar Bharat.
This report has been updated to make an addition in Modi’s quote about Aurangzeb
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)
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