In a veiled attack on political dynasties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said some people paid more attention to their family's legacy than to their country's heritage. Modi referred to the return of a statue of Goddess Annapurna from Canada, a century after it was said to have been stolen from Varanasi.
"Today is a special occasion for Kashi, he said, in his second address during a visit to his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi. The ancient idols of our gods and goddess are symbols of our faith and also invaluable heritage, he said, adding that had similar efforts been made earlier, the country could have got much more of its heritage back.
For us, legacy ('viraasat') means the country's heritage ('desh ki dharohar'). But for some people, legacy means their family and the name of their family. For us, legacy means our culture, our faith, our values. For them, legacy means their own statues and the photographs of their family," he said, without naming any party. He was speaking at Varanasi's Dev Deepawali festival, when the banks of the Ganga were illuminated with rows of lamps.
Earlier in the day, he dedicated to the nation the six-laning of the highway to Allahabad and offered prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple. "Today when the heritage of Kashi is returning, it seems that Kashi has decked up for the coming of Mata Annapurna, the prime minister said, calling the spectacle of illuminated ghats 'alaukik' or divine.
He paid tributes to fallen soldiers, indirectly referring to Pakistan and expansionist China. "Be it attempts to infiltrate across the border, the audacity of the expansionist forces or those hatching a conspiracy to break the country from inside, India is replying, and is giving a befitting reply," he said.
He reiterated his call of 'Vocal for Local', saying the manner in which people celebrated Diwali this time, using local products, was inspiring. But this must not remain confined to festivals and should become a part of everyone lives, he said.