Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has become the latest political controversy in the poll-bound Delhi.
Photographs that were published in newspapers on Thursday and later went viral on the social media showed how leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi unit, including its president Satish Upadhyay, allegedly turned the campaign launched on Gandhi Jayanti last month by the Prime Minister himself, into a photo-op.
The paper reported that garbage was littered on a clean pavement near India Islamic Cultural Centre on Lodhi Road before Upadhyay reached there with brooms and cleaned it up again.
Rejecting outright the allegation that any party functionary had any hand in the littering of the garbage, Upadhyay told HT that though organisers committed an error of judgment but it was done with a noble intention to send the message that Muslims too were part of the campaign.
“The organisers were trying to give a message that the Muslim community are also part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. While doing so they made a mistake by littering and dumping garbage before we reached there. We were not aware about it but we still see it as a positive gesture since they were only trying to give a message,” Upadhyay said.
However, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) used the broom in BJP’s hand as a stick to beat it. The Congress, too, attacked the saffron party for running a sham campaign targeted only to garner votes.
“Satish Upadhyay first had the streets littered and then cleaned. The BJP in Delhi has committed a fraud on the PM’s Swachh Bharat campaign,” AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal told a news channel, choosing selectively not targeting the campaign since he had himself participated in it.
The AAP, which had emerged as the main opposition to the BJP in Delhi after 2013 assembly elections in Delhi, also plan to use the opportunity to attack the BJP-ruled three municipal corporations since it is they who are responsible for maintaining cleanliness.
“The miserable condition of cleanliness in Delhi, repeatedly exposed by the Delhi High Court recently, shows the real face of the BJP-run municipal corporations. Delhiites are fully aware that the MCD, which the BJP has been ruling for the past seven years, is a den of corruption and is known for its inefficiency and lack of good work culture,” said an AAP spokesperson.
Upadyay though was of the opinion that the corporations lack the resources to handle sanitation in a vast city like Delhi. He said corporations have been facing shortage of funds to buy sanitation equipment, vehicles and hire additional sanitation staff. “Even AAP government didn’t release funds on time during their tenure despite repeated requests by the municipal leaders,” the Delhi BJP chief claimed.
The Delhi Congress questioned the BJP’s intentions behind running the campaign.
“The BJP leaders throw garbage and then enact the drama of cleaning it to pose for photographs and put them on social media. The Delhi High Court’s censure of all the three MCDs on cleanliness campaign has only proved what we have been saying all along that this is nothing but a farce,” Delhi Congress chief spokesperson Mukesh Sharma said.
Sharma added that the campaign stands exposed since one can see garbage dumped outside every colony. “Because of this so called cleanliness campaign the regular cleaning of streets is also not being done now,” he said.