By choosing Oct 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, to start his Swachh Bharat (Clean India) mission, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have taken a leaf from fellow partymate and Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's book.
The idea to use the broom to good effect on Gandhi Jayanti was first mooted by Parrikar 12 years ago.
The 58-year-old technocrat, during his first stint as the first Bharatiya Janata Party chief minister of Goa, had announced a slew of decisions, some controversial, which included cancellation of Gandhi Jayanti as a government holiday and making government servants use brooms to clean their offices on the day for two hours.
"Gandhi believed in work and I want to begin the work culture on his birthday," Parrikar had said during his media interaction after he announced his innovative plan in November 2011.
This is not too dissimilar to Modi's Swachh Bharat (Clean India) announcement in his Independence Day address August 15.
Modi, in his speech in Bangalore on Tuesday, said that he would himself use the broom on October 2 and asked Indians to spare two hours every week to the sanitation drive to make India a clean nation.
"I am seeking alms from countrymen. In alms, I seek your 100 hours in a year. We will together launch a cleanliness drive. You give your two hours in a week. As you clean up your house for a guest, prosperity will enter our country if we remove all dirt," he said.
Modi had during his election campaign also spoken about the importance of cleanliness and backed construction of toilets all across India coining a trademark slogan "Pehle sauchalaya phir devalaya" (toilet first, temple later).
Media reports also suggest that Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth has instructed all central government officials to participate in Modi's cleanliness drive which starts on the birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, who was himself a stickler for cleanliness.
In 2001, it was a circular by then state chief secretary Baleshwar Rai which dropped October 2 from the list of notified official holidays and instead re-classified Gandhi Jayanti as a "Clean Offices Day".
The circular also made it mandatory for all state government personnel to attend office and dedicate two hours between 10 a.m. and 12 noon to cleaning up their office premises in sync with Gandhian principles. The circular also dropped Goa Statehood Day (May 30) from the list of state government holidays.
When asked if the BJP in Goa was proud that one of its plans of action conceived 12 years back had actually been emulated to a degree by the Prime Minister, state party president Vinay Tendulkar said: "Yes. Goa had tried it too. The party now will take the (Swachh Bharat) programme forward in full swing. We will do it in Goa".
Tendulkar also told IANS that a meeting had been called later this week to discuss the modalities of Modi's programme and decide on ways and means on how best it could be taken forward.
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)