‘We Are High on Life’: After PM Modi, Youngsters in Varanasi Slam Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Nashedi’ Comment sattaex.com

Last Updated: February 24, 2024, 08:00 IST

The four youngsters at Meer Ghat in Varanasi. Pic/News18

News18 met four youngsters at Meer Ghat in Varanasi who are earning their livelihood through their efforts. They said that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was defaming the youths of the holy city by calling them ‘addicts’

Shiva Pandey sells his handmade paintings at Meer Ghat in Varanasi, Vivek Pandey is a gym trainer, Shubham Sawhney is a boatman and Pintu Goswami sells tea here on the edge of the Ganga. All of them have one thing in common — they are angry with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for calling the holy city’s youths “nashedi” (addicts).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi slammed Gandhi on Friday during his Varanasi visit, saying the Congress MP had “insulted the future of the nation” and left him shocked by his comments. Modi said those who are “themselves not in their senses” are calling Varanasi’s youths addicts.

At the Meer Ghat later that evening, News18 met these four youngsters who are earning their livelihood by their efforts. “Gandhi is saying this for his benefit. Was he inebriated, as we can never really understand him,” Shiva Pandey said, as he was making a painting of the boats in the Ganga.

Shiva sells the paintings at Meer Ghat and earns about Rs 500-Rs 1,000 daily. “I have never eaten a meethi supari. If Rahul met a drunk person in Varanasi, he would know what it meant! If the youth of Varanasi were in an inebriated state, Rahul’s rallies and roadshows would not have been possible. No one likes him here, everyone knows that. He has wrong illusions about Varanasi’s youth. Banaras ke log to hosh mein hi pagal hai, unhe peene ki zaroorat nahin (the youth of Varanasi are high on life),” Shiva Pandey says.

His 26-year-old friend, Vivek Pandey says he earns a living by working as a gym trainer and knows the ill effects of intoxicants on health. “Rahul Gandhi wants to make himself popular but this is not the way…he is generalising a misconception. If the youth of Varanasi were always drunk, they would have thrown stones at him,” Vivek said.

Shubham, who operates a boat in the Ganga, said Rahul Gandhi knows he cannot make a mark in Varanasi and hence was defaming the youth. “Our business is good…there is peace and no fights here. We only want Narendra Modi,” he said.

Pintu Goswami who sells tea at the Meer Ghat said Modi did the right thing by slamming Gandhi. “Since Modi has become the PM and our MP, my business has grown. I am not saying that none of the youths drink alcohol but it is not right to defame everyone…Rahul’s party had also said the Ram Mandir is not right,” he said.

Not far from the ghats near the city’s Ravidas Gate, a young man, Vishesh Kumar, is selling cut fruits to a bunch of young customers. “We are studying, earning a livelihood…the youths here are aware and thinking of their future. This is wrong on the part of Rahul Gandhi to term every youth of Kashi as an addict,” Kumar said.

“Rahul Gandhi bas anaap sanaap bolte rehte hain (speaks nonsense). He is not even young but everyone keeps calling him young…he is as old as my father. If he could not win Amethi, what will he do in Varanasi?” a youngster, Anoop Kumar, told News18.

The BJP is upping the ante on Gandhi’s comments after the Prime Minister slammed them in Varanasi. Gandhi was in Varanasi this week for his Nyay Yatra. When he reached Amethi two days ago, Rahul had said that he saw inebriated youth lying on the roads and dancing in Varanasi while a band was playing there.

After PM Modi attacked his comment, Rahul Gandhi retorted on social media site X, saying the prime minister was narrating to the grandmother the condition of her house. “Modi ji naani ko nanihaal ka haal suna rahe hain,” he posted.

Congress ally Samajwadi Party is uneasy over such remarks with party leaders saying Rahul Gandhi was perhaps trying to point at the issue of unemployment in Uttar Pradesh but his talk took another direction. The youth and first-time voters are a big vote bloc in UP and the SP has been trying to reach out to them given the young image of Akhilesh Yadav. The controversy came within a day of the SP and Congress sealing a seat-sharing deal in Uttar Pradesh for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

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