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'Swachh Bharat' a positive step, but real work needed: Ramesh

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

'Swachh Bharat' campaign is a positive step but could turn a topic for jokes if real work is not done, former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, who had pushed Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan sanitation drive under UPA, today said.

But BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi disagreed saying that the novel initiative needs time and was slowly taking the shape of a mass movement.

Ramesh, who was speaking at an event Agenda Aaj Tak', said that he felt that till now the campaign has been more about "slogans and photo-ops".

"It is an important, positive step....I am happy that the Prime Minister have called for a 'Swachh Bharat' but it should not remain a mere slogan....Till now I feel its about sloganeering and photo-ops. They are fine but actual implementation is the real thing," Ramesh, a senior Congress leader, said.

The other panelists in the session, Lekhi and yoga guru Ramdev, however, had a different take on the issue.

"This is just the first step. It is slowly taking the shape of a mass movement and an achievement will happen in 2019," Lekhi said.

Ramdev said that not all work is done for photo ops. Referring to a cleanliness drive led by him, he said that 200 trolleys of garbage waste had been removed from a canal and "without any lure of publicity".

Ramesh, however, stuck to his stance and said that while "sloganeering and handing people brooms is fine," making schemes and implementing them is still needed.

"There is a danger that Swacch Bharat can become a topic for jokes, if you don't take it seriously and don't work.... Your own people get garbage and litter a spot and later get their pics clicked," the Congress leader said.

He also questioned the government's priorities.

"Take for instance Indian Railways. It is the biggest open toilet and we are talking about bullet trains. Should the priorities be towards bullet trains or toilets in trains?" Ramesh asked.

Countering Ramesh, Ramdev said that what a Prime Minister can do is set priorities but the country comprises crores of people and everyone has to contribute.

"Now if there is 'Make in India' campaign, will Modiji run a factory?," the yog guru asked, adding that what is important is "he (Modi) has taken initiative, it should be supported."

Lekhi said that on an issue like cleanliness the approach of people has to be changed and "for that a leadership which is connected with masses is needed, something which is happening now".

She noted that Sachin Tendulkar's 'Swachh Bharat' video had gone viral generating enthusiasm and awareness.

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First Published: Sat, December 13 2014. 19:35 IST