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Tea vendors look upon Modi with pride and hope

By Ians English

New Delhi, May 26: As Narendra Modi, who began from humble roots as tea vendor in a railway station in Gujarat, takes oath as India's 14th prime minister Monday, tea-sellers are eyeing the occasion with a feeling of joy, hope and even kinship.

"Gareebi se utha hai, garibo ke takleef samjhta hoga" (He was himself poor once, so he must be knowing what it means to be poor)," said Shankar, a tea vendor in the national capital's busy Palika Bazaar area.

"I am hopeful he will work for our upliftment," he added.

Tea vendors across the national capital region seem to have an impression that Modi did a lot of development in Gujarat and he would deliver similar good governance throughout India.

Murli, a tea vendor at Green Park, said it was a moment of great pride for him to see a man like Modi rising from his humble origins to lead the country.

"Modi has done us proud, I am happy for him," Murli said.

He added, "There was such a noise about him. I am waiting to see what he does for us."

At the same time, there is also the realisation that it was Modi's hard work and determination - rather than destiny - which paved his way to 7 Race Course Road, the official residence of the prime minister in New Delhi.

"It will not be wise to say there is any link between him and us tea sellers. He has risen to his stature by his hard work and education," Rakesh Kumar, who runs a tea vend in busy Parliament Street, told IANS..

Another tea seller by the road side nearby Great India Place, Noida, was relatively less optimistic in his assessmemt of Modi, whose swearing in ceremony is being attended by top-notch SAARC leaders, including Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

"Hame kya karna hai, hum to thele pe chai hi bechenge (what has his swearing-in to do with us, we are destined to sell tea by the roadside)," he said, not wishing to be named.

"The elections or the cabinet formation is no more than any other news to us," he said, adding that he was sceptical that any government or prime minister will ever do enough for the poor.

Yet, the media blitzkrieg that the Bharatiya Janata Party had launched for Modi in the run-up to the 16th Lok Sabha polls seems to be on everybody's minds and lips.

"Har har Modi, ghar ghar Modi," exclaimed a little boy assisting him in his tea shop.

The boy added that after seeing years of "mehangaai" or inflation under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, he was upbeat about the change at the centre.

"Isko mauka milna chahiye tha (this man deserved a chance)," he told IANS.

Satish Dube, a 32-year-old hawker who sells tea at Rafi Marg, said Modi may not change his life but he is likely to do good work for the country.

"Modi cannot change my life overnight but I am sure he will bring good governance in the country," he said.

Another boy Ritesh expressed his desire to meet the 63-year-old man who has "done the impossible" by rising to the country's top post despite his humble beginnings.

"I want to become a leader and Modi ji has made me realise that it is not impossible," Ritesh, a street dweller who works in a tea stall in Lajpat Nagar, told IANS.

Though the meeting could not be arranged, an NGO Chetna got in touch with the PMO.

"The public relations officer Neha Bhatnagar at the prime minister's office has said that an invitation (for Ritesh) was not possible as time is short and security arrangements are frozen. However, she said that in another 15-20 days they will try to explore a meeting of Ritesh with Shri Modi in person," said Dikshita Rathor, project coordinator at CHETNA.


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