New Delhi: Taking on Rahul Gandhi for his criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over cleaning of the Ganga, Union Minister Uma Bharti today asked the Congress leader to refrain from making “frivolous” comments. Bharti, Union Minister for Water Resources, claimed the work on cleaning the river was on and lay a wager that the Congress vice president “jumps into the river” if positive results of the first phase of the project were not evident by 2018 “otherwise I will jump”.
The feisty sadhvi also targeted Gandhi for attacking Modi over his “son of the Ganga from Gujarat” comment, saying the Congress leader should know that his mother Sonia Gandhi “reveres the river” despite her Italian origin.
“He (Rahul) says Prime Minister is from Gujarat and calls Ganga his maa (mother)…kafi chhote dimag ke aadmi hain Rahul (he is narrow minded). He is not aware that the entire world considers Ganga its mother,” she said. Rahul had yesterday accused Modi of making “conditional promises and deals” even with “Ganga maa”.
Alleging that Modi did not only make promises to Ganga, but even struck deals with her, Gandhi said, “Modi told Maa Ganga that first make him the Prime Minister and then he will carry out the cleaning work.” “Modi strikes a relationship with mother Ganga saying he is the son of Banaras and that mother Ganga called him there (to contest Lok Sabha polls),” Gandhi told a poll rally in Varanasi yesterday.
Asking whether the Ganga had only one son and “that too from Gujarat”, Gandhi had said the holy river belonged to everyone and not any single person. Bharti, who heads the Modi government’s ambitious Namami Gange programme as Union Minister for Water Resources, said phase I of the Clean Ganga Mission, launched in July 2016, was intended to be complete by October next year.
“Rahul says Ganga has not been cleaned yet. We will show results of phase I works in October 2018. Rahul should accompany me to Banaras then and I will show him that the work has been completed,” Bharti told PTI over phone from Varanasi. “If the work is complete, he should jump into the Ganga. If it’s not, I will. He should not make frivolous comments about Ganga.”
Bharti said Gandhi had aligned with “Ganga’s enemy”, the UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav who, she alleged, tried to hamper the project. She alleged that Yadav did not give the ‘No Objection Certificate’ for starting the Phase I of the project in UP. She said the first phase covered five river basin states of Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, besides UP.
“I urge Rahul to not rush to Thailand after the (assembly) polls. He should come and see that the work is being carried out in four states. “He is sitting with Ganga’s enemy. I have evidence that Akhilesh did not give NOC. Will Rahul give up his friendship with Akhilesh if he actually swears by Ganga maa?” she said. Bharti claimed Congress-led governments started working on cleaning the Ganga but “nothing happened” for 29 years.