A large number of environmentalists and Yamuna activists in the Braj region have pinned their hopes on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who could be the “bhagirath (saviour)” of the Yamuna river, the lifeline of Agra and Mathura, in the manner the Sabramati was cleaned up in Ahmedabad.
“Look at the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad today. What was the condition of Sabarmati before Modi took over the reins of Gujarat? It’s a miracle of sorts, full of clean water round the year and the banks are not only self-sustaining economically as they are being rented out for various cultural activities, but a major attraction in the city,” Acharya Madhukar Chaturvedi who has been campaigning for the Sabarmati model to be adopted for the Yamuna in Agra, told IANS.
Most Gujaratis are Vaishnavs, Krishna Bhakts who revere the Yamuna as Krishna’s consort, he added.
Modi, addressing an election rally in the Taj city, had committed to doing everything to save the dying Yamuna.
The activists are upbeat after the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Mathura, actor-turned-politician Hema Malini, publicly committed herself to taking up the cause of the Yamuna, which she has been saying at her public meetings is part of the Braj area’s religious and cultural heritage associated with the lore of Radha-Krishna.
“The golden period of Indian history, the most magnificent monuments, religion, culture and our great heritage, blossomed along the Yamuna’s banks in just 200 km from Delhi to Agra,” said Surendra Sharma of the Braj Heritage Society.
The Yamuna Rakshak Dal and several other voluntary outfits have been raising the Yamuna issue with political parties and had sought firm commitments of candidates to clean up the river. Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate Jayant Choudhary also talked about the river in his speeches, though he did nothing in the past five years as MP to save the river.
In Agra, BJP candidate Ram Shankar Katheria has taken up the Yamuna issue as a priority item. He said the long-pending barrage project on the river Yamuna would be his top priority this time. “The river needs water not only for humans but also for the safety of historical monuments,” said Katheria, who last year highlighted in parliament the threat to the Taj Mahal from the polluted river water.
But it’s Modi who has given some hope of speedy action if he won the election and took over as the new prime minister, said Mathura’s Mukesh Chandra, a BJP worker. “The pandas and Chaubes of Mathura are campaigning for him in the hope that happy days will begin soon for the Yamuna,” says a shopkeeper near the Dwarkadheesh temple.
Jagan Nath Poddar, convenor of NGO Friends of Vrindavan, said the Yamuna is waiting for a Krishna to kill the “Kaali Nag” demon of pollution. “Who knows, Modi may play this role,” Poddar told IANS.
At the moment, the lifeline of the Braj area has been reduced to a “sewage canal”, threatening monuments along its banks. But those who have voted for Narendra Modi are full of hope that the Sabarmati riverfront experiment would be successfully replicated in Agra.
“After all, they all talk of their cultural roots and glorify the rich heritage of the Braj area. Why wouldn’t they do it on a priority? We have hopes and will pursue this dream,” added music maestro of Vrindavan Acharya T.N. Jaimini.