Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad stopped for a surprise check at post offices and did not like what he saw – dirty corners, stacks of files and cobwebs – just before the launch of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “clean India” mission.
While Mr Prasad was checking for dirt, another minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, took a broom to the streets.
On Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary on Thursday, PM Modi will also pick up a broom to launch his “Swachh Bharat (clean India)” mission, which he mentioned even in his speech at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
For the first time in decades, Gandhi’s birth anniversary October 2 will not be a holiday for government employees, who have to report to work for a cleanliness pledge.
In a prelude to the grand launch, several ministers have been seen sweeping roads, office corridors and gardens, always in the presence of cameras.
Images of workers purportedly littering the venues before the minister arrives for the photo-op have been seized by the opposition Congress.
“Pehle kudha, phir jhadu, phir photo (first litter, then sweep, then photo),” tweeted Congress leader Ajay Maken last week, posting newspaper pictures of garbage being scattered at an area before Union Culture Minister Shripad Naik’s broom date.
Education Minister Smriti Irani was among the first to take a broom and shovel at a government-run Kendriya Vidyalaya school last week.
This is how Mr Modi described his campaign: “We move into a new house and the first thing we do is cleaning. First the public did the cleaning; now we are doing it.”