Amid election fever in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity in this holy city can be seen from streets to stands, with booksellers saying titles written on him are flying off the shelf ahead of the polls in his constituency.
Among the books doing well are “The Real Modi” and “Narendra Modi: Ek Sakaratmak Soch”, according to booksellers in the temple town.
While the first one is an old paperback edition in Hindi, it is the second title that is catching the eyes of readers in the temple town.
Printed by publisher Apurva Shah of Ahmedabad, “Narendra Modi: Ek Sakaratmak Soch” is an unusual book as it is shaped like a cut-out put up during election rallies.
Amit Singh, a proprietor of the nearly 50-year-old Universal Book Company, located near the famous Godowlia Chowk in the city, pointed to a row of standing miniature Modi cut-outs stacked on a bookshelf next to a Shiv Khera title.
“Those cut-outs are not poll merchandises, but actually a book published by Navrang Printers and people are lapping it up for its quirky design. This book and ‘The Real Modi’ are selling like hot cakes, or should I say hot chai,” Singh told the media.
The book cover shows an image of Modi wearing a khadi kurta over a churidar pyjama and the content is printed bilingually, one side completely in English and the other side in Hindi.
“During Modi’s roadshow here ahead of filing nomination for the 2019 polls, a life-size version of the same book was put up as part of the rally,” Singh said.
The book, which is about 11 inches long, saw a third edition coming out in March, and the number of pages corresponds to Modi’s age, he said.
It is divided into several segments and in the preface written by Shah, reference has been made to the surgical strike and the airstrike, besides Modi government’s flagship schemes like ‘Swachh Bharat’ and ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’.
From Modi’s birthplace Vadnagar in Gujarat, the unique-looking book takes readers to his work regimen at 7, Race Course Road, the official residence of the prime minister.
Singh claimed, “The Real Modi” is a bestseller throughout the year, but lately its sales have gone up, given the election fever gripping the people here.
At Indica Books, publisher of a popular graphic novel-styled book “A Pilgrimage to Kashi”, a dummy book cover of “From Mahatma Gandhi to Modi” dangles outside the shop. A staff said, “We are awaiting copies of his book, people want to read about Modi and his life.”
Universal Book’s Singh said other titles are also selling well.
“One such book is ‘RSS 360 degrees’ and during election, there is a renewed interest among readers about this book,” he said.
But, it’s not just bookshelves that are filled with publications on Modi this election season, in streets and in corner shops, Modi banners and posters can be seen.
Several autorickshaws plying in Varanasi have been carrying a poster of Modi’s poll campaign, bearing slogans like — ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai’ or ‘Aatank ko muhtod jawab’.
“At DLW Maidan, some BJP workers pasted these Modi posters behind my auto,” said an autorickshaw driver, who did not wish to be identified.
At busy Godowlia Chowk near Dashashwamedh Ghat, several shops selling paan, lassi or Misrambu — a local sweet beverage — can also be seen sporting a ‘Modi clock’ — a specially designed wall clock that projects the image of Modi and his various schemes.
Varanasi, the ancient city known also by other names, Banaras and Kashi, will go to polls on May 19. (PTI)