‘Gateway to hell’ for 2019, not land of ‘moksha’: Why PM Modi has picked Maghar to sound Lok Sabha poll bugle

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New Delhi | Updated: Jun 26, 2018 5:14 PM

Unlike 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose the land of 'moksha' - Varanasi - to put himself in the race for the country's most important post, the PM has this time zeroed-in on Maghar in eastern Uttar Pradesh

narendra modi magharMumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a BJP function, in Mumbai on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (PTI Photo)

Unlike 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose the land of ‘moksha’ – Varanasi – to put himself in the race for the country’s most important post, the PM has this time zeroed-in on Maghar in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Located at a distance of around 250 kilometre from Lucknow, the place used to be held in superstition by many as the “gateway to hell”.

Maghar is known as the place where Sant Kabir breathed his last in the 15th Century to dispel the myth that anyone dying here goes directly to hell. Kabir is one of the few saints from the past held in high esteem by both Muslims and Hindus. Just in time before 2019 elections campaign gain momentum, PM Modi will visit Maghar on Thursday to connect with Kabir, and his great message of unity.

The Prime Minister will also address a huge gathering and pay obeisance at both the mausoleum and samadhi sthal of Kabir. Muslims and Hindus claim to hold the remains of the saint. In the 500th year of the death of Kabir at Maghar, and 620th year of his birth in Varanasi, PM Modi will also lay the foundation stone of Kabir Research Institute.

The next Lok Sabha elections will be way different from 2014 for PM Modi. While last time, PM Modi rode on the wave of angst and despair against the then Congress-led UPA government, in 2019, he will be the incumbent. PM Modi’s policies and decisions will be on test. More than this, on the test will be Modi’s ‘Sabka Saath, Sabha Vikas’ agenda. Has he succeeded?

In 2014 for Modi, the battleground was up for grabs with no popular opposition face in the race. In 2019 too, a single face looks unlikely and what one could see instead is all national and regional opposition parties who will unite against the prime minister and BJP.

To win 2019, PM Modi will have to break many myths and prove he is the prime minister of all citizens. The Maghar visit hence is significant. Politicians often shun places that are believed in superstition to bring bad luck. Even a big city like Noida in Uttar Pradesh was avoided by several chief ministers of the state in the past because of a superstitious belief.

Why Maghar is special

In his monthly Mann ki Baat radio adress to the nation on Sunday, PM Modi explained the story of Maghar and why Kabir visited there before death.

“It is here that Sant Kabir Das ji attained Samadhi. Do you know why Kabir Das ji chose to go to Maghar? In those days it was believed that death in Maghar was a roadblock in one’s pathway to heaven. On the contrary, breathing one’s last in Kaashi was a guarantee for entry into heaven. Maghar was considered unholy but Sant Kabirdas never subscribed to that view. He toiled relentlessly to quell many such superstitions and evil social customs of his times. That is why he went to Maghar and chose to attain Samadhi there. Sant Kabir Das ji, through his verses ‘Saakhis’ and ‘Dohas’ stressed upon the virtues of social equality, peace and brotherhood. These were his ideals.”

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