Modi cleans Varanasi's Assi Ghat, names more Clean India campaigners

Varanasi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday took his cleanliness drive to the ghats of Varanasi where he took up a spade and cleaned an area on the banks of river Ganga as a part of the Clean Ganga Mission.

In the morning, the prime minister went to the Assi Ghat and performed Ganga Puja amid chanting of hymns, on the second day of his maiden visit to his Varanasi parliamentary constituency after winning the Lok Sabha election from there in May.

He later picked up a spade and did 'shram daan' along with over two dozen labourers at the Ghat as he kicked off the Nirmal Ganga mission.

The prime minister dug the silt mound left behind by the surging river during monsoons at the ghat and cleared it for more than 10 minutes. Local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers also joined him later.

"I have started the cleanliness drive here and the social organisations have assured me that this entire 'ghat' will be cleaned within a month," he said.

Modi nominated nine more people, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, cricketers Suresh Raina and Mohammad Kaif, and singer Kailash Kher, to take forward the message to clean India.

The other nominees are Chitrakoot Specially Abled University Chancellor Ram Bhadracharya, Bhojpuri singer and BJP MP Manoj Tiwari, Manu Sharma known for his 'Krishna Atma Katha', Padmashri Sanskrit scholar Devi Prasad Dwivedi and comedian Raju Srivastava.

Modi's last engagement of the day, before returning to New Delhi, was a close-door event at the Ma Anandmayi Sangh where he visited a hospital in the campus and interacted with members and staff of the Sangh which is acclaimed for its work in health and education.

On Friday, the first day of his visit, the prime minister had laid the foundation stone of a trade facilitation centre at Bada Lalpur and adopted Jayapur village.

The visit of the prime minister had its share of politics too. While Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav flew down from Lucknow to receive him Friday, he did not accompany Modi in the events thereafter.

Prime Minister Modi also rued at a function that the state government had not ceded to the union government's demand of land for the trade facilitation centre, forcing it to pick land which was at a distance from the city.

Akhilesh Yadav responded to prime minister's allegations and said if he did not like the land where the foundation stone was being laid for the trade facilitation centre, the state was willing to give the land initially sought by the textiles ministry.

Modi, who stayed at the Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) premises here, said it had brought back memories of his childhood when he was closely associated with trains.

Writing in the visitors' book, the prime minister, giving expression to his feelings, said his stay at DLW had been an emotional experience.

"From childhood, I have been related to the railways, railway stations and train compartments. I have been staying at this (DLW) premises since yesterday. The atmosphere about railways on all sides has connected me to my childhood," Modi said.

He said that probably for the first time all the memories of his childhood, "those train compartments, those passengers, all the scenes came alive before his eyes".

"These memories were very emotional. The affections of people here left a mark," he said, terming the DLW staff "karmyogi (hard-working)".

The DLW was set up in 1961 as a green field project in technical collaboration with US' ALCO for manufacture of diesel electric locomotives.

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