‘Sangam Par Charcha’: Prayagraj Boatmen’S Views Offer Insight Into ‘Mood Of The Nation’

(MENAFN- IANS) New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) 'Triveni Sangam' in Prayagraj and the banks of river Ganga in the holy cities of Varanasi and Haridwar keep brimming with influx of pilgrims throughout the day, with boatmen giving them a hearty welcome and also a memorable ride for the picturesque evening aarti.

Boatmen termed 'Mallah' in the local dialect, comprising a sizeable community here, would often take naps and be found slouching in their boats in earlier days but today they are a busy lot. Not just overly occupied with work, they are also a happier lot today because of the spurt in their income and earnings.

On one such morning, as the dawn broke and the river shimmered with sunlight, the mesmerising pictures of the Sangam were caught in the camera. The boatmen arrived for work and so did the excited tourists for the boat ride.

While a group of tourists embarked on their 'joyride' on riverboats, the first experience for some, the IANS team stood by them to gauge their opinion not just on the pilgrimage but also on the electorate dynamics emerging from the region.

It is said that what the nation thinks about elections, the boatmen of Prayagraj anticipate in advance and often 'predict' the right outcome. The premise for their forecast is believed to be the congregation of individuals from across the globe and their extensive interaction with these boatmen.

We spoke to a couple of boatmen about what changed for them over the years and also to understand how the political and electoral landscape was taking shape in the river belt.

Boatman Pappu Nishad said that earlier, days would pass waiting for tourists but today, the times have changed. It is 'dhakaadhak', he said, expressing his views in one word.

“Today, we are loaded with work and very happy about it. Religious tourism has come as a boon for us,” he said.

A couple of boatmen showered lavish praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and vowed to support him for a third term.

“The scale of work has been immense over the years. Not just our city but the whole country is changing. It's because of the Modi government, our lives have changed and are getting better every day,” he said.

According to some reports, the Mallahs of Prayagraj reflect the pulse of the nation and have been rightly gauging the mood of the nation, for the past three decades.

Notably, Pappu Nishad is not a solitary voice but he represents many fellow 'Mallahs' who feel grateful to the current dispensation for a slew of opportunities.

The community, unskilled and untrained for other works feels circumscribed due to their 'backwardness' and sees this surge in tourism as a welcome change.

Anil Nishad, another boatman praised the Modi government for the positive changes in their lives.

“Since the pandemic, the Modi government is providing free ration. We have also much support in the fishing business,” he told IANS.

Naresh Kumar Nishad, declaring his support for the BJP, said that it will surely cross the 400 mark on the back of its farmer-friendly, women-friendly policies.

“Today, looting and robbery have taken a backseat and growth has taken precedence over everything. The objective of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas is taking everyone along,” he added.

Boatman Rajesh Nishad is happy not just with the surge in business but also with the free education of his children. He said that he doesn't have to pay school fees for his children anymore, and neither does he have to pay for the textbooks.

“For girl child, free online education is doing wonders,” he added.

Rajesh Prasad, another boatman credited the incumbent government not just for re-inventing spirituality among the youth but also for refurbishing many spiritual centres and turning them into fresh 'pilgrimage hubs'.

“Because of the good initiatives of this government, we are getting ample work. Our earnings have increased, we and our family are happy,” he said.

Notably, Triveni Sangam in Prayagraj, the erstwhile Allahabad, marking the confluence of river Ganga, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati comprises one of the most revered spots for Hindus, where a mere bath is said to wash away all the sins and frees oneself from the cycle of re-births.



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