The drive to sweep Bharat clean on Gandhi Jayanti swung from enthusiasm to indifference across India. Somewhere in between, it became an event for the selfie-obsessed.
In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat, chief minister Anandiben Patel launched the Swachh Bharat campaign from Porbandar, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace. She compared the clean mission to India’s freedom struggle spearheaded by Gandhiji and asked industry captains to pitch in.
Senior BJP leader LK Advani participated in the campaign in Ahmedabad while Test cricket specialist Cheteshwar Pujara swept the streets of Rajkot with a broom.
The ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh swept aside the campaign as a gimmick but that did not stop union home minister Rajnath Singh from ‘brooming home’ the message in Lucknow. “No work is big or small,” he said while sweeping the city’s Balu Adda locality.
The Congress government in Assam chose not to court controversy with bureaucrats taking to cleaning their offices as Union sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal launched the campaign at the Guwahati Railway Station.
In Kerala, chief minister Oommen Chandy led by example by pulling down a flex board carrying his photo outside the state secretariat. “You have to preach what you practice,” he said, declaring a war on flex boards and plastic.
State social welfare minister MK Muneer said the drive won’t be a “one-day wonder”, announcing the Clean Kerala Co for recycling plastic and electronic.
Bangalore, where Modi had announced his Swachch Bharat Abhiyan on September 23, saw state and central ministers and corporate honchos try to sweep away the Garbage City tag.
“It was ironical that two municipal workers died of asphyxiation in a manhole on the day Mangalyaan was launched,” said Maitreyi Krishnan, an activist against littering.
The drive, though, was a photo-op for participants who focused more on selfies than sweeping.
Adjoining Tamil Nadu was indifferent. The state government, preoccupied by former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s sentence, gave the campaign a miss.
Some central PSUs, private firms and CBSE schools took part, as did BJP members led by state unit chief Tamilisai Soundararajan.
(with inputs from states)