Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress has now turned focus on his constituency Varanasi, highlighting the ‘lack of development’ as it prepares for the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh due early next year.
‘Dard-e-Benares’ (Pain of Benares) depicts the problems being faced by the local people, with the party website running videos projecting their plight as also the filth in the holy city and the Ganga which flows along it.
In the short interviews, the locals from diverse backgrounds insist that nothing has changed in Varanasi in the last more than two years despite the Prime Minister representing the city in the Lok Sabha.
“Modiji comes here only for photo opportunities”, says Ajit Singh, a feeling echoed by several others.
Gopal says he has stopped taking bath in the Ganga whose water is getting more polluted by the day.
“Modiji may have come here and declared that he has been called by ‘Ma Ganga’, but nothing has changed for the better for the river,” he says.
Gopal says Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharti, whose ministry has been entrusted with the responsibility of cleaning the holy river, visits Varanasi once in a while and takes a round of the Ganga but not much has been done to rid it of pollution.
Brajesh Singh says cleaning Ganga has become a “publicity stunt”.
Mannu Sahani, a tea vendor, laments that Modi raised hopes of development but little has been done for the city. “I thought that when a chaiwala comes to power, good days will come. But it has not happened”. During the campaign days, Sahani says, he distributed tea for free in the hope that a bright future awaited him but that did not happen.
Sunil Jha regretted that the dirty water from the Assi Nullah is still flowing into the Ganga unabated despite promises made during the polls that it would be stopped. Pulses are available at Rs 180 a kilo, he said, wondering whether can it be called “Achhe Din”.
“In elections, we chanted ‘har har Modi’ in the belief that he will rid us of our pain and suffering, but no change has taken place. Plight of people is worsening with the growing price rise,” laments Pandit Mishra.
Another local says there were hardly any employment avenues in Varanasi where the number of educated jobless youth was increasing.