Narendra Modi, along with BJP president Rajnath Singh and close aide Amit Shah, Performs Ganga Aarti at the Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi on Saturday
Varanasi: On May 8, after being denied permission by the Varanasi district administration to perform Ganga Aarti, Narendra Modi tweeted: "My profound apologies to Ganga Maa for not being able to perform Aarti today." After leading his party, and the alliance led by it, to a landslide victory in the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate reached Varanasi to take part in the ritual. "It's my destiny to serve Maa Ganga," he said after the hour-long ceremony.
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Accompanied by party president Rajnath Singh and general secretary Amit Shah, architect of the BJP's sensational victory in Uttar Pradesh, where it won 71 of the 80 seats, Mr Modi reached the brightly-lit Dashashwamedh Ghat soon after darkness fell. The famous ghat, venue of the 'Maha Aarti' ceremony, was spruced up with flowers and banners. Red carpets had been laid out. The ghat had, in fact, turned saffron with flags and BJP workers donning party colours. Priests blew conch shells. The boats, a familiar sight at the ghat, were asked to stay away for a while. The spot where the 'Puja' is to be performed was awash with rose petals. Mr Modi sat with folded hands. (Narendra Modi Lands in Varanasi for Thanksgiving Visit)
Security was tight at the ghat where the Ganga Aarti attracts huge crowds everyday. The river front was secured, with SPG personnel and local police taking position on the boats. A bomb explosion in 2010 at the ghat had killed two persons and left several others injured.
There was tight security in the rest of Varanasi too. A special team of the Gujarat Police carried out inspections of all areas that Mr Modi passed through.
Mr Modi landed at Babatpur Airport at around 4.45, and left for the Police Lines by chopper soon after. From Police Lines he drove to the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple to offer prayers before reaching the Dashashwamedh Ghat to take part in the "Ganga Aarti". Party workers and curious onlookers had gathered in large numbers all along the route.
The BJP alleged that permission for prayers at the Ganga river and another event had come in too late to organise them. Mr Modi had offered an "apology to Ganga ma" and promised to visit later and offer prayers. The local BJP unit said there was no formal communication on whether Mr Modi would address the people of Varanasi. He won the seat by a margin of about 3.7 lakh votes. He won his other seat, Vadodara in Gujarat by 5.7 lakh votes. (Election Results 2014: Narendra Modi Wins By Huge Margin in Vadodara)
He thanked party workers for his spectacular victory in the general elections and said he would work for the good of all Indians. "This victory is dedicated to the sacrifices of generations of loyal party workers who have been working tirelessly since 1952. It's the fruit of their blessings, prayers and hard work," Mr Modi said as the crowd showered rose petals on him and chanted his name.