Opinions have been divided over the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor ever since the demolition drive began. While most people have come around to believing it’s a great initiative, after scores of ancient Temples were rediscovered in the process, certain people like Ravish Kumar and members of the Muslim community still don’t approve.
While Muslims are nervous that the corridor could pave the way for the demolition of the Gyanvapi, Ravish Kumar is worried about the loss of ‘heritage’. In an interview with The Quint, Ravish claimed that Varanasi doesn’t feel like Varanasi anymore.
Ravish said, “I was arguing with some people, they were telling me it doesn’t matter that 200-250 houses were demolished for the corridor.” He seemed rather offended by that as he embarked upon a mission to claim that cultural heritage was being destroyed, ignoring entirely the scores of ancient Temples that have been recovered.
Throughout the interview, Ravish maintained that the corridor project was misguided. At one point, he went to the extent of saying that even if the people whose houses were demolished, for which they received adequate compensation, say that the corridor is for the betterment of Varanasi, he won’t agree that it was a good thing.
He said, “The 250 people would have taken their compensation and walked away. They could have been paid more but the wisdom that could be gained through that argument, could you buy that? I am telling you what’s happening is not right. You listen to me, you don’t, it’s up to you but I am telling you it’s not okay.”
“Every place has its own traditions, suddenly you demolish everything and build a 4-lane highway across the Mandir, then what can I say? I will say even then that it’s not correct. You can drive your car through this 4-lane highway at 180 km/hr if you have bought one but this place had a life of its own,” he added.
Ravish Kumar appears to have made it a point to disagree with the popular public perception regardless of the matter in question. When asked about the cleanliness of the Ganga, he answered with a question of his own, “Do you think the Ganga is getting cleaner?” When it was pointed out that people agreed that the Ganga was indeed getting cleaner, his response was, “So what if people say?”
That the hygiene of the Ganga has improved is generally not considered a matter of debate. When millions of devotees arrived at Kumbh and did the Ganga Snan, including high profile politicians, it was considered enough evidence that the hygiene of the sacred river had indeed improved since not too long ago, foreign dignitaries could not so due to the poor quality of the water. However, Ravish the Compulsive Contrarian chooses to disagree with observable facts.
His primary grouse appears to be with something else entirely. According to Ravish, people used to vote for Congress and BJP earlier as well but it’s only that politics has really become an issue. His opinions stem from an incident where people saw him at Kashi and called him Modi’s opponent. “I went to the Hotel and someone said, ‘Look. Modi-virodhi has come’. This is not Varanasi.” He appeared quite bitter while saying that.
Looking at his track record, it’s easy to see why people may consider him Modi’s opposition. Recently, he was seen on the stage of an SP-BSP rally in Uttar Pradesh. Although Ravish claimed he was only covering their campaign when questioned about it in the interview. Last year at an event moderated by Kumar, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav had said that he regretted not killing a journalist who had criticized him.
In the past, he has also insinuated that the BJP was trying to divide the Army along religious lines while showering praises on a media portal that attempted to sow discord within the Army on the basis of caste. He also spread fake news about martyr status to CRPF Jawans to malign the NDA government.