| Ramashankar Pandey prepares tea near Patna zoo on Friday. Picture by Sachin |
He helped his father sell tea as a child. Today, Narendra Modi is all set to hold the country’s most prestigious post. The chaiwallah (tea-seller), as he was once known, has come a long way to be the nation’s Prime Minister.
On Friday, after the results indicated a thumping win for the BJP, The Telegraph tried to gauge the mood of city-based chaiwalas (tea-sellers) to know their feelings now that a person from their community would be elected the Prime Minister.
“A tea-seller is going to become the Prime Minister of this country and this is a matter of great pride for us. What makes our community extremely happy is that Modiji has won with a big difference. Modiji does not need to do jod-tod ki rajneeti (politics of alliance) as his party has won the majority,” said 72-year-old Ramashankar Pandey, who looked quite happy at his shop after the poll results started coming out. Ramashankar has been selling tea since he was 16.
Ramashankar said he had heard Modi’s speech on television and he him very humble unlike other politicians. “Can you expect a political leader to talk about his modest background, that he used to sell tea or similar kind of stuff in his childhood? I have never heard any leader say something like that. Modi is different. He has got the courage to accept this fact and I salute him for that,” said Pandey, adding: “Those who spread rumours about Modiji that he is against the minority community should stop doing so. I think a person who comes from such a humble background would not have hard feelings for any community. All this is rubbish.”
He, however, added that there was no television set at his shop and he has to rely on election result updates and information from his customers only.
Ramashankar was not the only chaiwala, who was happy with the poll results on Friday. Ashok Kumar (38), another tea-seller, who runs his shop near the New Secretariat, was also visibly excited to know the poll results going in favour of the BJP. Like Ramashankar, Ashok too was also happy with the BJP’s win because of the Narendra Modi factor. “Modiji has given us a belief that even a chaiwala (tea-seller) or a paanwala (betel shop owner) can be eligible for the post of the Prime Minister. Modiji has said in his speech that he would do good things for the people of Bihar and I have full faith in him,” said Ashok, who only has a matriculation degree up his sleeve.
Vijay Rai (49), a tea-seller who has his shop near the Income Tax building, however seemed a little apprehensive about Modi’s performance as Prime Minister. “Look, so far I have voted only for the RJD. This is the first time I have voted for the BJP and that too because Ram Vilas Paswan ji had a poll alliance with them. Ram Vilas ji belongs to my area (Hajipur). So I voted for the BJP. I wish that Modiji delivers a good performance as the Prime Minister of India. I have not pinned high hopes on him though, he said.