Tuesday July 4, 2017
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In this photograph the former tea stall of Damodardas Mulchand Modi, father of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and where Modi assisted his father in his spare time, is pictured at the railway station in Vadnagar, some 110 kms from Ahmedabad. — AFP picIn this photograph the former tea stall of Damodardas Mulchand Modi, father of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and where Modi assisted his father in his spare time, is pictured at the railway station in Vadnagar, some 110 kms from Ahmedabad. — AFP picAHMEDABAD, July 4 — Now it is rusting hulk in a small town railway station, but Indian authorities want the stall where Prime Minister Narendra Modi sold tea with his father to become a global tourist magnet.

The nationalist leader spoke often during his election campaign of his humble roots as a “chai wallah’s son” and the authorities plan a US$15 million (RM64.5 million) project to spruce up those roots in his hometown of Vadnagar.

“Looking into the historic importance of the stall, we have decided to modernise it,” Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said as he announced the project in the town in the western state of Gujarat.

“We want to restore the tea stall and develop it as a tourist spot. This is being done to put Vadnagar on the world tourism map,” Sharma said in comments reported today.

The tin sheet stall is currently unused and unloved on a Vadnagar railway station platform. Most of it is covered with rust.

One of six children, Modi, now 66, is said to have spent much of his childhood helping his father Damodardas Mulchand Modi who died in 1989.

As well as using his “chai wallah’s son” roots during the 2014 election campaign, Modi also held “discussions over tea” at campaign stops to take questions from the public.

District collector Alok Pandey said there are seven or eight sites in Vadnagar, a town of 25,000 people, which will be developed under the tourism plan.

He said the culture and tourism ministry had given one billion rupees (US$15 million, RM64.5 billion) “to develop Vadnagar as a tourist attraction”.

“The work has already begun and most of it will be over by the end of September,” Pandey told AFP without saying what would happen to the stall.

He conceded that the railway station was in a “very dilapidated condition.”

Vadnagar’s Sarmishta Lake, a clock tower, Buddhist excavation sites and the railway station will be renovated to keep tourists interested, he said.

A makeshift tea stall on another platform will also get a painting and cleaning, the official proudly said. — AFP

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