27 October, 2020

Varanasi Diary

Modi in anno domini 2015 isn’t looking as good on the ground as he did in the year of the lord 2014.

Varanasi Diary
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Arhar Mahadev

If the shoe-thumping, eyeball-glowering ‘Jai Ho!’ brand of nationalism at the Wagah border on the west doesn’t get your blood pressure up sufficiently, perhaps you might like to sample the shallow, soulless ‘Incredible India’ religiosity of the ‘Ganga aarti’ in the east. More spectacle than substance, more pomp than piety—and loud, hyped and orchestrated like you know what—a cynic might be tempted to find real-life parallels when not evading the refuse left behind by cows and bhelpuri sellers. But 18 months after a triumphant Narendra Modi smeared his forehead with sandalwood on its banks at primetime, there are few signs that ‘achche din’ have arrived even for the boatmen working the ghats in the constituency where the prime minister is no less a ‘bahari’ than every visitor and tourist.

Modi’s candidature and win from here was to have electrified the BJP’s bid to widen its imp­r­int in this part of the country. November 7 and 8 should...

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