As Varanasi gets ready to vote, tea stalls in the city are abuzz with political discussions and tea sellers have been busier than usual ensuring what appears to be an endless supply of steaming hot cuppas. Tea sellers say their sales have increased over the past month, which witnessed high-decibel campaigning by political parties and leaders.
A few tea stalls have had some high-profile visitors. Pappu, who runs a humble tea stall in Assi area, played host to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.
Modi, who represents Varanasi in the Lok Sabha, made a stopover at ’Pappu ki erri’ (tea stall) near Banaras Hindu University when he was returning after offering prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple. Union Minister and BJP’s election in-charge for Uttar Pradesh Dharmendra Pradhan was waiting for the prime minister at the tea stall.
Modi sat on a bench inside the tea stall like a commoner. When asked by an overawed Pappu what he would like to have, the prime minister said, ”Banaras ki kulhad chai, jo sab ko pilate ho (Banaras’ ’kulhad’ tea that you serve to everyone).” A photo online showed Modi holding up his ’kulhad’ (earthen cup) as the tea seller poured tea into it from his kettle. Modi, who has said he sold tea with his father as a child, also interacted with some locals at the tea stall.
Brisk business for tea sellers has also meant greater demand for ‘kulhads’.
Kailash Rai, a tea seller in Mahmoorhganj, said due to the increase in demand for tea, he is finding it hard to procure an adequate number of ‘kulhads’.
Babu Prajapati of Pahari village, who makes ‘kulhads’, told PTI that his sales have doubled over the past month.
“Earlier, I would sell 5,000 ‘kulhads’ in a month, whereas I sold 10,000 of them in the last month," he said.
Another ‘kulhad’ seller Kallu Prajapati said his sales went up by 80 per cent during the election time.
To meet the demand, ‘kulhad’-makers have now installed machines to speed up the process, he said.
Polling will be held in eight Assembly seats in Varanasi district in the seventh and last phase of the Uttar Pradesh elections on March 7.