04/07/2017 11:57 AM IST | Updated 04/07/2017 11:57 AM IST

Tea Stall Where PM Modi Reportedly Worked To Become Tourist Spot

It's part of a ₹100 crore central government project.

Rupak De Chowdhuri / Reuters
A tea stall vendor who is a supporter of India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) poses while wearing a mask of Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate for BJP and Gujarat's chief minister, in Kolkata February 1, 2014. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri (INDIA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

The central government has decided to make a tea stall--where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reported to have worked as a child--into a tourist spot. This is part of the government's ₹100 crore plan to boost tourism in Vadnagar in Gujarat, the place of Modi's birth.

"Inside the Vadnagar railway station, there is a small tea stall, from where our PM had probably started his life's journey. We also want to develop that tea stall as a tourism spot. Our aim is to put Vadnagar on world tourism map," Union Culture and Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma told PTI.

However, there is no proof that Modi ever worked as a tea seller, let alone at this particular tea stall. In an RTI reply in 2015, the railway board had said that it had no record of Modi selling tea at any railway station in India. While there have been frequent references to Modi's childhood job of selling tea with his father, most famously in a TIME magazine profile on Modi by then-American President Barack Obama, no documented evidence has ever confirmed this anecdotal narrative.

Congress has called the story a "poll gimmick" and even announced a prize in the past for anyone who can prove that Modi was indeed a tea seller. Commentators have weighed in, saying that if the story is indeed true, it was probably for a short period as Modi left home to join RSS in his teens.

But the story has continued to capture public imagination, and the central government's decision to immortalise this tea stall by converting it into a tourist destination is a step towards solidifying this narrative.

The project is being coordinated by the ministries of culture and railways. Officials of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had visited the town on Sunday. "We will try to preserve the original charm of the tea stall while giving it a modern touch," Sharma added.

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