Prime minister Narendra Modi took a holy dip in the Ganges in the ongoing Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh on January 24. Soon after, BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya tweeted that PM Modi is the “first head of state to visit Kumbh in all these years.”

PM Modi is NOT the first prime minister to visit Kumbh

Malviya’s claim is incorrect on two accounts.

First, the prime minister is not the head of the state. S/he is the leader of the cabinet of ministers and the head of the executive branch of the government. The president of India is the head of the state. Based on this, the first head of the state to visit Kumbh was the first Indian president Rajendra Prasad. Incumbent president Ram Nath Kovind had himself tweeted that Prasad attended the Mela in 1953.

Second, PM Modi is not the first prime minister to visit Kumbh. The first prime minister of the country, Jawaharlal Nehru, visited Kumbh in 1954. In the book ‘Pilgrimage and Power: The Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, 1765-1954’, author Kama Maclean included a photograph of Nehru from 1954 at Kumbh and wrote – “In the lead-up to the Mela, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru became personally involved in the arrangements and visited the site, even though it was technically the jurisdiction of the UP government. On another visit to the Mela on Paush Purnima, in the presence of media photographers, he paused to dip his hand in the sacred waters of the sangam…”

Not only Nehru but former prime minister Indira Gandhi also visited Kumbh in 1977. Senior journalist Tavleen Singh claimed that she was physically present when Gandhi took a dip in the Ganges.

Therefore, Amit Malviya’s claim that PM Modi is the first prime minister to visit Kumbh Mela is false as Jawaharlal Nehru was the first PM to make the trip.

About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.