Set up as a hotline of sorts between the people in the PM’s constituency and the PMO, the karyalaya gets 50 to 200 complaints each day
From dealing with errant husbands and resolving other assorted family feuds to fixing civic issues such as overflowing drains and using its clout with Delhi to help people in distress, the ‘mini PMO’ in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi is a one-stop crisis management centre for all kinds of problems, be it personal, professional or political.Set up with much fanfare to act as a hotline of sorts between the people of Modi’s constituency and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in New Delhi last August, the ‘mini PMO’ receives 50 to 200 complaints each day.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Operating from a house converted to an office in Ravindra Puri area, the Jansampark Karyalaya is staffed by six permanent employees and volunteers of the RSS.The office, which operates like any other from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., has no administrative power but remains in constant touch with the PMO in Delhi to deal with issues that can be resolved with help from the central government. Legislators and the mayor are also roped in to act as troubleshooters.Meera Devi, who lives in Varanasi’s Hublulgunj area, is amongst those who approached the ‘mini PMO’ for help after her brother died in an accident in Saudi Arabia in January. “We would not have seen the face of our dead brother if Modi was not here,” she said. The family tried for three months to get his body back but was unsuccessful. They then approached the karyalaya and the body was home in a week so the family could perform his last rites.”We immediately alerted the PMO in Delhi, which got in touch with the ministry of external affairs (MEA). In one week, we could bring Vijay’s body back,” said Shivcharan Pathak, who is associated with the RSS and manages the karyalaya.Pathak has a team of five persons with him. While three work at the front office attending to complaints, two work behind the scenes, coordinating with the PMO in Delhi and local administrators.Four of Varanasi’s five legislators are from the BJP, which is also in power in the municipal corporation. The MLAs, mayor and other party representatives also take turns to work with the ‘mini PMO’.”I come here every Thursday. If the complaints are to be addressed at city level, we take it on our own. The others are diverted to the agency concerned,” said Varanasi mayor Ramgopal Mohley.The ‘Varanasi PMO’ also remains in constant touch with the police and the district magistrate.Complaints of family feuds are an everyday affair. The office is often called upon to resolve disputes between married couples, some seeking counselling and other divorce while there are those who come to get an FIR registered against the partner.Like Seema Pandey. “My husband has eloped with another woman. The police are making me run from pillar to post to register my complaint. I want him punished,” said Pandey, who was at the PMO demanding that her FIR be registered. The office immediately contacted the police chief of the area and sent the woman to see him.There are plenty of civic issues too, of course, as well as disgruntled opposition leaders who frequently hold protests outside the office. “The sewage in our lanes has been overflowing for months now. No municipal staff comes for routine cleaning,” said Umesh Yadav, a local resident and a member of the Samajwadi Party who demonstrated with 50 other supporters outside the office.To maintain law and order, a police van and a team of six constables are stationed inside the office. “It is just to ensure that no anti-social activity takes place around the place and it remains peaceful,” said Pathak.Interestingly, the office this year also received several requests for Haj permissions. Many in the city who could not get permission from the state government have requested the PMO to intervene. “Modiji is our representative… We have asked his office for permission,” said Mir Ansari.Pathak confirmed that he has received some 25 Haj applications. “We have forwarded it to the PMO in Delhi,” he said.