‘In every step’, Modi ‘follows’ Ravidas

PM invokes poet-saint on trip to Varanasi

By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow
  • Published 20.02.19, 3:22 AM
  • Updated 20.02.19, 9:12 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Modi interacts with a differently abled girl in Varanasi on Tuesday. (PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday claimed his government followed Sant Ravidas’s ideology in “every decision” as he invoked a key figure of the Bhakti movement at the poet-saint’s birthplace Varanasi in what appeared to be a pre-election bid to court the socially underprivileged.

“Every step, every decision of my government is as per the ideology of Saint Ravidas,” Modi said in Seergowardhanpur, Varanasi, considered the birthplace of the 14th-century-born poet.

The BJP leader was addressing a gathering after paying obeisance to Ravidas on his 642nd birth anniversary at a temple named after the saint.

“Guruji (Ravidas) had made us look towards one problem, which has harmed the country and the society. It is dishonesty. Some people snatch other’s rights. With the blessings of Sant Ravidas, there is no space for dishonesty and corruption in New India. Our government stands beside those who want to be honest,” Modi told the gathering before going on to remind his audience that Ravidas, said to have been born in a family of “untouchables”, was against the caste system.

“Our youths are becoming a part of social and political change in the digital India of the present time. We need to identify those selfish and politically motivated people who raise the issue of caste,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister also claimed that his government’s move to provide free electricity and LPG connections and a yearly hospitalisation cover of up to Rs 5 lakh to the poor, and irrigation facilities and an annual subsidy of Rs 6,000 for farmers were also in accordance with Ravidas’s idea of uplifting the underprivileged.

Tuesday’s address in the heartland, months ahead of parliamentary elections due by May, comes at a time former rivals BSP and the Samajwadi Party have formalised their alliance in Uttar Pradesh in a caste-based consolidation that could prove tricky for the state’s ruling BJP.

A response came soon from BSP boss Mayawati, who said BJP leaders remembered Ravidas only on his birth anniversary.

“Saint Ravidas struggled all his life against social inequality on the basis of birth and kept trying as a vibrant social reformer to change this system,” Mayawati said, listing the works she had done as chief minister to honour the mystic poet whose devotional songs had a lasting impact on the Bhakti movement that preached against the caste system.

“There is perversion all over and the social fabric of the country is breaking because of the narrowness of the BJP…. There is mismanagement in the country because of the myopic vision of the BJP government…. They politicise every problem in the country,” she added.

Modi inaugurated projects worth over Rs 3,000 crore, including the Madan Mohan Malaviya Cancer Centre at Banaras Hindu University and the Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital in the Lahartara area at an event organised in Audhe Gaon on the city’s outskirts.

He claimed that the bullet train, his pet project, would soon be a reality in the country. “Some people are spreading negativity (regarding his claims). The people of Kashi (Varanasi) will give them a befitting reply,” Modi said.

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