Narendra Modi’s Ganga aarti here is a first in two respects. It is believed to be an unprecedented act for a Prime Minister-elect or any winning MP in Varanasi. The city has never witnessed a Ganga aarti organised for a politician before.

Amid tight security, Mr. Modi, his forehead smeared with sandalwood powder, walked down to Dashashwamedh Ghat followed by BJP president Rajnath Singh and his trusted aide Amit Shah after performing puja at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple here.

The waiting crowd burst into loud cheer as Mr. Modi joined the aarti amid the chanting of “slokas” and the blowing of conch shells. A huge electric lotus floated on a boat in the Ganga, however, failed to attract spectators, who were jostling for a glimpse of the Mr. Modi.

“When I came to Varanasi I came as a candidate, but when I filed my nomination form, I became a son of this soil. I am grateful to Kashi. I received so much support despite spending very little time in the city. I bow before the people of Varanasi for having so much faith in me,” Mr. Modi said in his thanksgiving speech from a makeshift stage on the ghat.

He landed at the Babatpur Airport around 5 p.m. and then flew to the police lines helipad. From there, he travelled in a cavalcade to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, some 8 km away, where he and Mr. Singh offered prayers.

Some supporters could be seen waving flags from rooftops of crumbling buildings. The atmosphere was electric at the ghat, which was decorated just the way it is during the famous Ganga Dusshera festival. Evoking his earlier commitment to the Ganga, Mr. Modi said: “I come to the feet of the Ganga. It’s my destiny to serve the Ganga.”

Mr. Modi praised the people of Varanasi, and said he would like the city to be turned into a world-class tourist and travel destination. “We just need to link the energy and potential of the people and the soil of Varanasi,” he said.

Raising the issue of cleanliness of Varanasi, Mr. Modi urged the people to collectively ensure that the streets of the temple city remain clean. “I have a dream for Kashi, which only the people of Kashi can fulfil. Small things lead to great things. We are all servants of Kashi,” Mr. Modi said.

He refrained from making political attacks during his speech.

Talking of his party’s huge win, he said: “We heard about coalitions forming government, but now we have a situation where they need an alliance to form an opposition.”

Says ‘We are all servants of Kashi’

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