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Dear Friends,

Today I embark on a unique and memorable journey from the land of Somnath to the city of Lord Vishwanath. Later today I will be filing my nomination papers from Varanasi as the BJP candidate.  I would like to thank the leadership of the Party for giving me this opportunity to contest elections from this city that has such a rich history and culture. I bow to the Party Karyakartas who have been working tirelessly on the ground from the time my nomination was announced and the Karyakartas and well-wishers from all over India who have supported me in the last few months.

It was said about Varanasi:

“Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”(Mark Twain) 

Varanasi is the cradle of India’s glorious culture, a confluence of tradition, history, culture and harmony. This is the blessed land of the Sankat Mochan temple. The spiritual power of this land is exceptional. It drew people from all over the world, who came to this land in search of peace and Moksha. It was in Sarnath, that Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining Enlightenment. Varanasi is the birthplace of the venerable Sant Ravidas. It was in Benaras that Mahatma Kabir was born, lived and shared his wisdom. Mirza Ghalib described Benaras as ‘Kaba-E-Hindustan’ and ‘Chirag-E-Dair’ or the light of the world.  When Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya had to select a place to set up a centre of learning, it was not a surprise that he chose Benaras. No mention of Varanasi is complete without remembering Ustad Bismillah Khan, arguably the greatest symbol of Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb. Ustad Bismillah Khan Sahab’s love for Varanasi is legendary. I was very happy when Ustad Bismillah Khan was conferred the Bharat Ratna by Atal ji in 2001.

Truly, there is something special about Varanasi and its people. इस देवभूमि का हर निवासी अपने अन्दर कहीं कहीं देवत्व लिए हुए है.

With the blessings of Lord Vishwanath and inspired by the legacy of a glorious past, we set out to create a magnificent future for Varanasi.

We envision Varanasi as a World Heritage Site that is able to draw both devotees and those who wish to understand and absorb India’s culture. This means creating state-of-the-art tourist and infrastructure facilities for Varanasi. And it is my firm belief that once we are able to give the required impetus to tourism, it will not only bring more tourists but also enhance the livelihood of the poorest of the poor. More tourists means more income for those associated with temples, those who are living on the Ghats, those who ride the ferries on the Ganga…the entire town and surrounding areas will receive a much needed facelift.

Ganga is the lifeline of Varanasi and is at the core of our identity- She is our Mother. Unfortunately, governments have not been able to devote the attention that should have been given to Ganga. The condition of the Ganga in several parts of UP is pitiable. We can’t let this go on anymore! Need of the hour is to work towards cleaning the Ganga and restoring it to its previous glory. In 1986 the Government of the day brought the Ganga Action Plan but it merely remained a plan, the action was missing. Budgets were allocated but the money was never used for the intended purpose. The condition of the Varuna too is similar. Now is the time for urgent action to solve this anomaly!

And when I talk about my commitment to clean the Ganga, it is not a mere promise. When I took over as CM in 2001 the condition of Sabarmati was similar. It was better known for hosting circuses and children playing cricket. Switch to 2014 and things are very different! We have brought water from the Narmada and now water flows through the Sabarmati. A world class Sabarmati River Front was created, which has emerged as a popular recreation and cultural spot in Ahmedabad. With the blessings of Baba Bholenath, this is what we intend to replicate in Varanasi.


To know more about the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project, click here

It is not only the Ganga that has become the victim of sheer negligence. We are firm in our commitment to address the issues of cleanliness in Varanasi so that we can give the citizens of Varanasi a clean and green city. We will focus on solid waste management right from collecting the waste to treating it. Similarly, the poor waste disposal practices over the years have not served the people of Varanasi well. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that such occurrences are history within a very short period of time. Within a fixed timeframe, the problems of solid waste management, sewer and chemical waste will be successfully mitigated.

The weavers of Varanasi are an integral part of the city’s history, present and future. Unfortunately, due to apathy of the governments in Delhi and Lucknow their work has suffered. It is my firm resolve to infuse this sector with latest technology and qualitative value addition so that the weavers of Varanasi become our pride at the world level. From ensuring that they get quality raw material to better marketing of their products, it is my resolve to ensure that they stand on their own feet with pride and their future generations have a bright future. 


Read more on the 5F formula to support farmers and weavers

A few days ago something very disturbing came to my light. In a village near Varanasi a high voltage line fell due to which a few people including women were injured. I was surprised and saddened to know that the injured did not receive timely medical help and the authorities showed no concern. This is a symptom of a larger decay across UP and this is the decay that we want to end.

Friends, today as I go to Varanasi, I seek your support and blessings. Bless me so that I can restore this glorious city to its prime and so that I can bring a sea of change in the lives of people of Varanasi and Poorvanchal so that this region once again becomes the focal point of our nation’s development and our proud culture.

Yours,

Narendra Modi

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On the evening of 25th April when I received the news of Sardar Parkash Singh Badal Ji’s demise, I was filled with immense sadness. In his passing away, I have lost a father figure, someone who guided me for decades. In ways more than one, he shaped India’s and Punjab’s politics that can be described as unparalleled.

That Badal Sahab was a big leader is widely accepted. But, more importantly, he was a big-hearted human being. Being a big leader is easier but being a big-hearted person requires a lot more. People across Punjab say - there was something very different about Badal Sahab! (‘Badal Sahab Ki Baat Alag Thi’)

It can be confidently said that Sardar Parkash Singh Badal Sahab ranks among the tallest Kisan Neta of our times. Agriculture was his real passion. Whenever he spoke on any occasion, his speeches were filled with facts, latest information and a lot of personal insight.

I got to closely interact with Badal Sahab in the 1990’s when I was involved in Party work in Northern India. Badal Sahab’s reputation preceded him - he was a political stalwart who had been Punjab’s youngest Chief Minister, a Union Cabinet Minister and someone who held sway over the hearts of crores of Punjabis across the world. I, on the other hand, was an ordinary Karyakarta. Yet, true to his nature, he never let this create a gap between us. He was filled with warmth and kindness. These were traits that remained with him till his last breath. Everyone who interacted closely with Badal Sahab would recall his wit and sense of humour.

In the mid and late 1990’s the political climate in Punjab was very different. The state had seen much turmoil and elections were due in 1997. Our Parties went to the people together and Badal Sahab was our leader. His credibility was a key reason that the people blessed us with a resounding win. Not only that, our alliance successfully won the Municipal Elections in Chandigarh and also the Lok Sabha seat in the city. His persona was such that our alliance went on to serve the state for 15 years between 1997 and 2017!

There is an anecdote I can never forget. After taking oath as CM, Badal Sahab told me that we would go to Amritsar together, where we would halt at night and the next day we would pray and have Langar. I was in my room at a guest house but, when he got to know of this, he came to my room and began to pick up my luggage. I asked him why is he doing this, to which he told me that I would have to come with him to the room meant for the CM and stay there only. I kept telling him that there is no need to do this but he insisted. Eventually, this is exactly what happened and Badal Sahab stayed in another room. I will always cherish this gesture of his towards a very ordinary Karyakarta like me.

Badal Sahab had a very special interest in Gaushalas and kept various cows. During one of our meetings, he told me that he had a desire to breed cows from Gir. I arranged 5 cows for him and after that, when we would meet, he would talk to me about the cows and also joke that those cows are Gujaratis in every way- they never get angry, agitated or attack anyone including when children are playing around. He would also remark that no wonder the Gujaratis are so gentle…after all they drink the milk of the cows of Gir.

After 2001, I got to interact with Badal Sahab in a different capacity - we were now Chief Ministers of our respective states.

I was blessed to receive Badal Sahab’s guidance on numerous issues, especially those related to agriculture including water conservation, animal husbandry and dairy. He was also someone who believed in tapping the potential of the diaspora, considering there are so many hardworking Punjabis settled overseas.

Once he told me that he wants to understand what Alang Shipyard is about. Then he came there and spent the entire day at Alang Shipyard and understood how recycling takes place. Punjab is not a coastal state so in a way, there was no direct relevance of a shipyard for him but such was his desire to learn new things that he spent the day there and understood different aspects of the sector.

I will always cherish his words of appreciation towards the Gujarat Government’s repair and restoration efforts of the holy Lakhpat Gurudwara in Kutch, which was damaged during the 2001 quake.

After the NDA Government came to power at the Centre in 2014, he once again provided valuable insights based on his rich governmental experience. He strongly supported several reforms including the historic GST.

I have highlighted just a few aspects of our interaction. At a larger level, his contribution to our nation is indelible. He was among the bravest soldiers for the restoration of democracy during the dark days of the Emergency. He himself suffered the high-handedness of the imperious Congress culture when his governments were dismissed. And, these experiences only made his belief in democracy stronger.

During the turbulent period of the 1970’s and 1980’s in Punjab Badal Sahab put Punjab First and India First. He steadfastly opposed any plan that would weaken India or compromise the interests of the people of Punjab even if it meant loss of power.

He was a man deeply committed to fulfilling the ideals of the great Guru Sahibs. He also made noteworthy efforts to preserve and celebrate the Sikh heritage. Who can also forget his role in ensuring justice for the riot victims of 1984?

Badal Sahab was a person who brought people together. He could work with leaders of all ideologies. Badal Sahab never associated any relationship with political gains or losses. This was particularly useful in furthering a spirit of national unity.

The void left by Badal Sahab’s demise will be tough to fill. Here was a statesman whose life witnessed many challenges but he overcame them and rose like a phoenix. He will be missed but he will live on in our hearts and he will also live on through the outstanding work he has done over decades.