Modi proposers to come from all walks of life

BJP searches for tea vendor, weaver, boatman, betel-leaf seller

In an apparent bid to deflect criticism from his alleged “lack of inclusiveness”, BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will seek to woo almost every section of society through what many are seeing as typical “Banarasi manner”, when he files nomination papers from the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat on Thursday.

According to BJP sources here, Modi's proposers may include people from different professions and communities. While some names have already been finalised, a few others are under consideration, and likely to be finalised in a day or two.

Sources say the saffron party has contacted members of several respected families that have deep roots in Varanasi and are also part of the cultural traditions of “Kashi” (Varanasi's old name), to include them among the Modi's proposers.

BJP leaders here said the party was trying to have a member of the “Benaras Sangeet Gharana” among Modi's proposers. “A protégé of shehnai maestro late Ustad Bismillah Khan may be one of the proposers,” they added.

Similarly, the saffron party was also trying to rope in a member of the “dom raja” family of Varanasi as a proposer. Members of the “dom raja” family supply the logs and straw with which funeral pyres are lit at the famous Manikarnika Ghat on the banks of the Ganga. It is an age-old Hindu ritual.

The “doms” are considered “outcasts” and “untouchable”.

Modi's proposers may also include a boatman, a betel-leaf seller, a tea vendor and a weaver. All of them, barring the tea vendor, are considered “symbols” of Varanasi.
Varanasi's famous “ghats” are crowded by hundreds of boatmen, while the temple town is identified with the betel leaf. The weaver community, which makes the beautiful “Banarasi” silk saris, has a sizeable presence in the town. Almost all of them are Muslims.

“The idea is to prove that Modi enjoys support in every section of society,” said BJP leaders here.

Modi's close aide and UP BJP in-charge Amit Shah had on Saturday said the Gujarat chief minister would file his nomination papers from Varanasi on Thursday.

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