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“Modi village” is Varanasi’s new hot spot

Narayan Patel is a busy man these days. Apart from attending to scores of journalists coming from all over the place, he has to take care of the needs of visiting government officials, foreign delegates, representatives from civil society, company executives, scientists and researchers. The de facto Pradhan of Jayapur village in Varanasi district, however, does not mind this sudden change in his life as “his village has become part of history” after the Prime Minister decided to adopt it as part of Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY).

Jayapur, with a population of little over 4,200, was just like most other villages before Prime Minister Narendra Modi adopted it on November 7. Other than a primary school, the village is short of any amenity a decent habitation should have. A primary health centre is few kilometres away, the nearest railway station is at a distance of 10 kilometres, secondary and tertiary education centres are miles away, electricity is conspicuous by its absence most of the time and there is nothing called a working public transport system.

“Ab sab kuch babalne wala hai (everything is going to change now),” exudes Patel, with nearly a dozen villagers nodding in agreement. Anticipating achche din, villagers are about to make lifestyle changes. And serving visitors with “sugar free sweets” is just one of them. “Do not worry. They are sugar free sweets. You can have them without any apprehension,” a villager sitting near Narayan Patel told us while serving us a plateful of kaju katli.  

There are signs of achche din  for this village. Within a week of PM’s announcement about adopting Jayapur, Union Bank opened a solar-powered fully computerized branch. In less than two weeks, the branch has sanctioned Rs. 35 lakhs of crop loan, with Rs. 24 lakhs already disbursed. The branch has also arranged for villagers to enrol for Aadhar card. All families of the village have opened bank account under the Jan Dhan Scheme.

State Bank of India is looking for a place to open its branch in the village. Life Insurance Corporation of India has done a preliminary survey and is set to launch a special scheme with a promise of recruiting 15 agents from the village. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited is set to install a mobile tower shortly. Scientists of Benaras Hindu University (BHU) have provided top quality wheat seeds to all the families. KRIBHCO has distributed quality seeds of onion and peas, free of cost, to all the villagers. A visiting Japanese delegation has promised to set up a drainage system in the village. A senior state government official told this reporter that an Indian-born American scientist has promised to set up educational infrastructure in the village. And the village will soon have a vocational training centre for women.

Help is coming from other quarters as well. Baba Ramdev’s disciple Om ran a three-day long Yoga camp last week and renowned doctors, including cancer and heart specialists, from Varanasi and Delhi have started holding day-long health camps, providing free healthcare to all the villagers. And villagers also say that they are expecting starts from Bhojpuri films to come to their village and hold live concerts. Villagers also expect 24/7 power supply soon with the help of solar plant that is in the planning stage.

“Modiji to sansar ke maalik hain. Unhe to sab pata hai. Unko batane ki zaroorat thodi hai (Modiji is the lord of the world. He knows everything. Who are we to tell him what to do,” says Durgavati Devi, village Pradhan. Narayan Patel is her brother-in-law. She shared dais with the Prime Minister when he had visited the village on November 7. “The Prime Minister asked for my wish on the dais. What could I tell him,” she adds.

The promise of better physical infrastructure is just one of the many changes that have taken place in the village, recount villagers. What pleases them the most is the attitudinal change in the way government officials approach the village. “Whenever our Pradhan calls up local police officer or district magistrate or any senior officer, she is heard seriously and her concerns addressed without any delay,” says a villager who took lift in our taxi and talked at length about how good things are waiting to happen in the village. “A senior district administration official visited our village recently and inspected our ration shop. He found some deficiency and issued instant instruction to get it rectified,” he adds.

Villagers take pride in the fact that Jayapur is one of the few all-Hindu village in the area. And according to local legends, when Mughal emperor Aurangzeb was on temple hunting mission, his army came across an old Hanuman temple in the village. It was unique in the sense that the main deity was in black colour. Villagers recount how their forefathers defeated the powerful Mughal army and kept the temple safe from invasion. Hence the name Jayapur. The narrative perhaps has sustained its all-Hindu character. One Varanasi-based journalist, who works for a national news channel, told this reporter that Jayapur “has traditionally been a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) stronghold and one of the RSS prant pracharaks belongs to this village. RSS holds regular sakhas in the village. The RSS may have played a role in adoption of this village by the PM.” He requested not to be named.

However, for the time being, Jayapur is basking in its new found glory. And for most of the visitors to Varanasi, it is becoming a must-visit destination in their itinerary. “When I visited the village, I saw a gentleman from Patna who wanted to plant five trees in “Modi’s village”. Then there were people from Uttarakhand and Delhi coming to see this village. I know many taxi operators in Varanasi who have started showing road maps to their drivers on how to reach Jayapur,” the Varanasi-based journalist said. 

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