On the morning of Gandhi Jayanti, BR Camp woke up to the sound of sweeping and cleaning of sewers. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal and his band of followers had descended on the colony to clean it.
The small colony, located less than half a kilometre from the Prime Minister’s residence on Race Course Road, is home to more than 200 poor families. Most of them work as safai karamcharis in different agencies but their own area seemed to have been untouched by the spirit of PM Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
“If every Indian takes the responsibility of keeping his neighbourhood clean, then it won’t take long before we can realise the dream of a clean nation,” said Kejriwal as he swept the colony with his broom — AAP’s political symbol — and unclogged the gutters.
The former chief minister also stressed on the need for the government to focus on the rights of ‘safai karamcharis’. “The cleaners and sweepers who help keep the city clean deserved to be treated with dignity. The government should provide them with equipment and facilities for their own safety and should ensure better salaries and living conditions for them. This drive can only be successful if we respect the people who are contributing towards the drive,” he said.
After cleaning the open gutter which passes through the entrance of houses, Kejriwal also visited a few houses in colony and had breakfast and tea with the cleaners and their families.
But there were many who labelled Kejriwal’s cleanliness drive a publicity gimmick, coming as it did on the same day as Modi’s.
“We appreciate that Kejriwal chose our camp to launch his mission, but this seemed like an attempt at garnering votes before the Delhi elections. Else why did he have to pick a location near Modi’s residence,” said Murli Yadav, a resident of the colony who works as a security guard.
Modi began his ‘Swachhta Mission’ from the Valmiki Colony in central Delhi on the occasion on Gandhi Jayanti. Valmiki Colony is considered an AAP stronghold.