Five months after his party swept to power at the Centre, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wielded the broom in a Delhi colony of sanitation workers last year to launch his flagship Swachh Bharat mission for a filth-free India.
But on the campaign’s first anniversary, residents of Valmiki Basti say when the dust settled after the whirlwind event, old attitudes and practices reigned again.
Some locals called the daylong sanitation drive a “political stunt”, saying they had no idea why the Prime Minister picked the narrow lanes of their neighbourhood to unveil the programme.
“Our colony was never dirty and nor was sanitation a major issue here,” said 67-year-old Gareeb Das.
However, residents say the cleanliness drive made a comeback to the area a few days ago with municipal workers sweeping the streets every morning and evening.
“We suspect that this happened with an eye on the anniversary, but such sanitation drives should not be mere annual events and should be practiced regularly,” said local resident Anju, who goes by one name.
While launching the campaign last year on Mahatma Gandhi’s 145th birth anniversary, Modi called upon every citizen to realise the independence leader’s dream of a clean India and spread the message about the link between sanitation and public health.
Local children, however, don’t have fond memories of the Prime Minister’s visit. They say hours ahead of Modi’s arrival, people were forcibly locked in their homes and weren’t allowed to step out because of security concerns.
“Every house had a security personnel sitting inside or in the balcony,” said 14-year-old Varun. “The people weren’t allowed to see him (Modi). We could only watch him on TV.”