Varanasi:Prime Minister Narendra Modi today paid tributes to Lal Bahadur Shastri at a memorial erected at the site where the former Prime Minister had spent early childhood.
Modi, who has been campaigning in the city for three days, chose the last day to travel to Ramnagar township across the Ganges. The pathway leading to the Shastri Chauraha crossing, named after the late PM, was jampacked with supporters and admirers who had been standing there for hours.
Chants of “Modi! Modi! reverberated through the air as the PM’s cavalcade appeared.
Modi, who is also the local MP, got up from his seat inside his black vehicle and stood on the footboard, balancing himself with one arm entwined around the door frame and waving at the crowds with the other as the cavalcade trudged towards the statue of Shastri.
After paying floral tributes at the statue, Modi headed towards the house where Shastri’s father had lived until his death. Shastri was only two years old at that time. The family had then moved to Allahabad.
Passing through a narrow alley, the Prime Minister covered a distance of a few hundred metres on foot amid chants of “Modi! Modi!” from the crowd before entering the premises which have now been converted into a small museum.
After paying floral tributes at life-size portraits of Shastri and “Bharat Mata”, kept side by side, Modi went inside and had a look at the pictures adorning the walls wherein various episodes from the ex-Premier’s life were depicted.
He also enjoyed a song based on Shastri’s life, sitting cross-legged on a mattress covered with a white sheet.
Known for his love for music, the PM was seen clapping his hands and gesticulating with his head several times in appreciation of the rendition, made to the tune of tabla and harmonium.
As he left for his onward journey, many of the residents gushed that this was the first time that a Prime Minister had paid a visit to the house of Shastri, who is revered for his honesty and integrity and leadership during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war.
Talking to PTI over phone, Shastri’s maternal grandson and BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh said, “I cannot find enough words to appreciate what the Prime Minister has done. My grandfather was a Congress leader but the party never gave him his due”.
“My grandmother had made a request to the then Congress government 40 years ago that the house, which Modi visited today, be made a museum so that people may visit the place and feel inspired.
“The proposal saw the light of the day only when Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the PM,” Singh said.
“Today, Modi has moved a step further in the direction of acknowledging our unsung heroes and recognizing their contributions,” Singh said in a voice choked with emotion.