Varanasi’s Top Official, Under BJP Attack, is a Local Hero

Written by | May 10, 2014 | 0

Varanasi: Pranjal Yadav, the young IIT-educated district magistrate of Varanasi who faced the BJP’s wrath this week for putting curbs on its leader Narendra Modi’s election campaign, is for many in Varanasi still a local hero. (The Man Who Has Rattled Narendra Modi’s BJP)

On the streets of Varanasi, public support for Mr Yadav seems strong even as the BJP has accused him of attempting to derail Mr Modi’s Lok Sabha campaign in Varanasi, where he is the BJP candidate. People IANS spoke to here were mostly supportive of the district magistrate for more reasons than one. (Watch: Varanasi Debates Decision of District Majistrate Pranjal Yadav)

“He handled encroachment with an iron fist. He did not even spare politicians and other biggies,” Sunil Chaurasiya, who owns a cyber cafe in the Godowlia area, said.

He also credited him with “roads like never before. Earlier, there were areas where people didn’t want to go because of poor roads. Yadav brought about the change,” Mr Chaurasiya said.

Naushad, an auto driver, said, “Life is easier for people like us because of the better roads. It saves us fuel. Yadav has done a lot for Banaras.”

Mr Yadav earned the BJP’s wrath this week when he disallowed a Narendra Modi rally in the city citing security reasons. The BJP refused to hold two other events in the city saying permission had come too late and accused Mr Yadav of being a “biased” and “delinquent officer.” That day, Mr Modi drove through the city instead in a show of strength.

The Election Commission, caught in the stand-off with the BJP, ceded yesterday that it took too long to decide on permissions for Mr Modi’s events.

The BJP has alleged that the district magistrate is related to Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party and is taking orders from that party, which rules Uttar Pradesh. Ramgopal Yadav has denied any family links with the official.

At Mr Yadav’s official residence in Varanasi, a bungalow with a sprawling lawn lined with trees in the cantonment area, an aide described the top official as a “nice person”.

Mr Yadav lives with his family, including his wife and a young daughter.

A mechanical engineer from IIT-Roorkee, the 34-year-old official is a 2006 batch IAS officer. He was the district magistrate of Azamgarh, the constituency of Mulayam Singh Yadav, before being posted in Varanasi.

The district magistrate could not be reached for comments. His aide said he was avoiding the media.

“Too much attention is being paid to his personal life. He does not like that,” the aide said.

“The district magistrate has undertaken the river profiling of the Ganga to protect its ghats from caving in,” said Shrinivas, a student of Banaras Hindu University who did not give his second name.

IANS has learnt that Mr Yadav formed a committee in 2013 to assess the problems of the Ganga ghats — with participation of other official agencies including the Central Water Commission, PWD, the irrigation department and civil engineering experts from IIT-BHU.

A BJP worker, Krishnendu, admitted that his party had in general received good support from the district administration for all its rallies.”It would have been difficult to handle the crowds without the support of the administration,” Krishnendu admitted to IANS.

The locals are all praise for the district magistrate. One resident described him as “a man of action”.

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