In­dian PM’s tea stall to be­come tourist shrine

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Now it is rust­ing hulk in a small town rail­way sta­tion, but In­dian au­thor­i­ties want the stall where In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi sold tea with his fa­ther to be­come a global tourist mag­net. The na­tion­al­ist leader spoke of­ten dur­ing his elec­tion cam­paign of his hum­ble roots as a “chai wal­lah’s son” and the au­thor­i­ties plan a $15 mil­lion project to spruce up those roots in his home­town of Vad­na­gar. “Look­ing into the his­toric im­por­tance of the stall, we have de­cided to mod­ern­ize it,” Cul­ture Min­is­ter Ma­hesh Sharma said as he an­nounced the project in the town in the west­ern state of Gu­jarat.

“We want to re­store the tea stall and de­velop it as a tourist spot. This is be­ing done to put Vad­na­gar on the world tourism map,” Sharma said in com­ments re­ported yes­ter­day. The tin sheet stall is cur­rently un­used and unloved on a Vad­na­gar rail­way sta­tion plat­form. Most of it is cov­ered with rust. One of six chil­dren, Modi, now 66, is said to have spent much of his child­hood help­ing his fa­ther Damodar­das Mulc­hand Modi who died in 1989.

As well as us­ing his “chai wal­lah’s son” roots dur­ing the 2014 elec­tion cam­paign, Modi also held “dis­cus­sions over tea” at cam­paign stops to take ques­tions from the pub­lic. Dis­trict col­lec­tor Alok Pandey said there are seven or eight sites in Vad­na­gar, a town of 25,000 peo­ple, which will be de­vel­oped un­der the tourism plan. He said the cul­ture and tourism min­istry had given one bil­lion ru­pees ($15 mil­lion) “to de­velop Vad­na­gar as a tourist at­trac­tion”.

“The work has al­ready be­gun and most of it will be over by the end of Septem­ber,” Pandey said with­out say­ing what would hap­pen to the stall. He con­ceded that the rail­way sta­tion was in a “very di­lap­i­dated con­di­tion.” Vad­na­gar’s Sarmishta Lake, a clock tower, Bud­dhist ex­ca­va­tion sites and the rail­way sta­tion will be ren­o­vated to keep tourists in­ter­ested, he said. A makeshift tea stall on an­other plat­form will also get a paint­ing and clean­ing, the of­fi­cial proudly said.—AFP

AHMED­ABAD: In­dian pedes­tri­ans walk past the for­mer tea stall of Damodar­das Mulc­hand Modi, fa­ther of In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and where Modi as­sisted his fa­ther in his spare time. — AFP

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