Varanasi: One year is a long time in politics.
Almost 365-days ago, the city of Kashi handed over a defining mandate to Narendra Modi paving his way to become India`s prime minister.
With a `tsunami` of goodwill and expectations, Modi defeated AAP candidate Arvind Kejriwal with over two lakh votes and routed other political opponents.
A year later the euphoria for Modi seems to be missing in the city. While die-hard pro-Modi followers and the anti-Modi camp hold their own, common residents here says they expected a complete makeover of the city after Modi`s coronation. This, they rue, has not happened
“We were given to believe that the city will get a never-before make over, traffic will improve, the roads will widen and a lot will happen. But that is not the case, even after a year,” says Saurabh, owner of the famous Shri Ram Bhandar – a 200-year-old eatery on the Mint House road. In fact, he says, not much has changed.
Avinash Rai, s 34-year-old banker buying `poories` and `jalebi`s` for his family nods in agreement. But he credits Modi of having brough about a change in thinking towards hygiene and cleanliness.
“Lot may not have happened on other fronts but there has been change in the mindset of people,” he told IANS explaining how even his 5-year-old son Atharva chides anyone found littering in the house or on the roads.
Swami Adyutanand, a seer sitting on Dr Rajendra Prasad Ghat on the banks of river Ganges agrees. Pointing towards environment- friendly cane dustbins put at many places on the well-lit ghats, he says the areas are now clean like never in the past.
The seer, who earns a livelihood by `jajmani` or doing Hindu rituals for clients, like `deep daan` and `maha mrityunjay jaap` says Modi has succesfully inculcated the habit of hygiene among people.
Vinay Kumar Sharma, an uneducated 20-something boy from neighbouring Jaunpur and working as a barber at Nadesar is well informed about the steps taken by the prime minister. “My mother has been able to open her bank account under the `jan-dhan yojna” he says breaking into a smile while giving a head massage to his client.
Anand Srivastava a small-time businessman running a garment shop in Laurabeer says power situation has improved in the city and work on roads is also underway at many places. He, however, adds that Modi needs to deliver “faster and more” if had to “be in Banarasi hearts”.
Amba, a flower seller in Gudauliya near the Assi Ghat, however says that price rise has not been arrested. “Modi babu mehangayi to kam nahin kar sakin, aur to theek hai ba” (Modi has failed to check price rise, the rest is okay), she mumbles while dishing out facts on how vegetable prices and that of other essential commodities have gone up steeply in the past one year.
Ashfaq, selling `gup-chup` (or pani-puri) in Ramnagar seems to be floored by the prime minister. “Modi saab is making serious efforts to change the city, state and the country,” he says. “At least there is peace and things will look up in long term,” he says with surprising wisdom for his age.
Kailash Pandey, an octagenarian retired postal officer sums up the mood of the city in an earthy but to-the-point one liner – “Modi Sarkaar – thodi acchi, thodi bekaar”