**VIDEO GRAB**Prayagraj: A still from a video grab shows, Prime Minister Narendra Modi honouring the sanitation workers during 'Swachh Kumbh Swachh Aabhaar' event, in Prayagraj (Allahabad), Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. (Twitter Photo/ PTI)(PTI2_24_2019_000131B)
**VIDEO GRAB**Prayagraj: A still from a video grab shows, Prime Minister Narendra Modi honouring the sanitation workers during 'Swachh Kumbh Swachh Aabhaar' event, in Prayagraj (Allahabad), Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. (Twitter Photo/ PTI)(PTI2_24_2019_000131B)

Prayagraj: One has to take the word of the Prime Minister for it, but he is insistent that he has ‘‘never seen a cleaner Ganga previously and it has only been possible because of the Namami Gange project.” That should bring cheer to the man behind the project – Union Water Resource Minister Nitin Gadkari. Sadly, he was not there to hear the golden words.

And, there is a simple explanation for the transformation of the Ganges; in the words of the prime minister, “the amount collected after auctioning the presents that I have received in the past four-and-a-half years as the Prime Minister are being used in the service of the Ganga.”

Normally, these gifts, mostly from heads of state, land in the State treasury. Not just that, the sum he received with the Seoul Peace Prize will also go into the Namami Ganga Mission coffers. So, it was an extremely satisfied prime minister, smug in the belief that he has rendered yeoman service to the nation, who took a dip in the Ganga and performed the traditional ‘aarti’.

Then, to the bafflement of the sanitation workers, who were recipients of of the Swachh Kumbh Swachh Aabhaar award, he insisted on washing their feet. There is no denying that, thanks to these sanitation workers, the Kumbh grounds were cleaner than usual.

One of them was ecstatic enough to declare that ‘‘PM Modi deserves another chance as the country’s head.” Dubbing Prayagraj as a great role model for the country in terms of cleanliness, PM Modi revealed that by the end of this year, the country will declare itself free of open defecation.

Earlier in the day, Modi formally kicked off the implementation of the Rs 75,000-crore Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme and distributed the first instalment of Rs 2,000 during his visit to Gorakhpur.

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