LS polls: Chai and ‘charcha’ at Pappu’s tea stall in Varanasi

Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh): ‘Pappu ki chai ki dukan’, said to be Varanasi’s oldest and most popular tea stall is buzzing this election season. This ancient city is famed for its love of politics and during the ongoing election season, the small tea stall resounds with animated conversations and debates themed on politics.

With Prime Minister Modi set to file nomination from his home constituency on Friday, he is a hot topic of discussion among customers, who are drawn to the Pappu’s shop stall at Assi Chowk, assured of being welcomed with piping hot tea as well as a lively conversation- both very much a part of this temple town’s culture.

At any time of the day, locals, politicians, poets, writers, critics, artists, students and even filmstars jostle to find space at the stall where they swig endless cups of tea and apparently talk to their heart’s content. Nowadays apart from talking about “giving Narendra Modi a second term as Prime Minister”, the “prospects of Priyanka Gandhi contesting from Varanasi” are also hot topics of debate among others.

“Who else is there except Modi? Earlier the roads here were full of potholes and accidents were quite common. Now you can see the good conditions of roads yourself. There also used to be a network of electricity wires all above our heads but now the wiring has been made underground. It’s all became possible because of Narendra Modi,” says Dr RP Singh, who retired from BHU and is a regular at the tea stall.

“If mother Ganga would not have been cleaned then Priyanka Gandhi would not have drunk the holy water. All sewers that were earlier discharging directly into the river are being closed one by one,” he adds.

Another local Chand Pandey says that all good work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will fade away if he is not given a second opportunity.

“Giving him a second chance is very important otherwise what he has done will get vanquished and would be finished without reaching its conclusion,” said Pandey.

Pandey says he is sure of a strong Modi wave in Kashi will influence voters all over the eastern Uttar Pradesh. “There is a Tsunami, Modi-Tsunami. The Tsunami will start from tomorrow and there will be more development,” says Pandey.

Deepak Ragane, another regular visitor at the tea stall says he advocates for a second term for PM Modi since he has “remarkable work” for Varanasi in terms of development and cleaning Ganga.

“The development which has been done in the last five years had not been done in the 70 years of other governments. Ganga is cleaned as never before. I think PM Modi deserves a second chance,” says Ragane.

There are also a few who have differing opinions.

“What BJP promised in its 2014 manifesto has not been fulfilled. They promised two crore jobs, it was a lollipop. Now there is unemployment and even those who are pasting Narendra Modi’s posters are being counted as employed,” says Ram Bharat Ojha.

Rajesh Mishra, a social worker, is of the view that Varanasi is in need of a new MP. He puts forth the merits of Congress general secretary for UP Priyanka Gandhi contesting against PM Modi from the city.

“In this election, we will get a new MP, Priyanka Gandhi should contest from here. It is only outsiders who are advocating Modi and not those who are locals,” says Mishra.

Manoj, the son of Pappu bluntly dismisses Mishra’s suggestion. He says even if Congress President Rahul Gandhi would contest against PM Modi from Varanasi then his security would be forfeited.

“Modi has won the hearts of all, leave apart Priyanka Gandhi even if her brother would contest then his security will be forfeited,” says Manoj.

“Not only second term, but Varanasi is also ready to give him (Modi) 15 years,” he adds.

Whichever be the political party, or whoever be the politician, ‘Pappu ki Adi’ stall, for now, is continuing with its legacy for playing host to political discussions, diatribes and et al.

Sanjeev Gupta who consider the tea shop as his second home, says the place is like a small parliament in itself.

“Pappu Tea Stall is like my second home, I visit at least two times in a day. We have made Prime Minister and Chief Minister from here, it is like a small parliament in itself where discussion and debate goes on without any hesitation,” says Gupta.