PM Modi takes part in walkathon as part of the nationwide campaign, Swachh Bharat Mission after its launch in New Delhi. (Press Trust of India)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has made it somewhat of a trademark to cross security cordons and interact with crowds, broke with his schedule and arrangements again today to walk with delighted school children in the capital.
This morning, at India Gate in the heart of the capital, the PM led a crowd of nearly 5,000 which included school children in taking a pledge to help clean up India in the next five years - in time for the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
After declaring, "If we can make it to Mars, surely we can clean up the country...India can do it," the PM began walking with some children and activists. He was meant to walk about 300 metres to where his car was waiting but as security guards struggled, he kept going, all the way upto the residence of former prime minister and iconic BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
That was the second surprise Mr Modi pulled this morning. After visiting Gandhi's memorial at Rajghat, the Prime Minister made an unplanned stop at a police station in Central Delhi. The parking area was littered with garbage, and the PM picked up a broom and swept for about 10 minutes. He then headed to Valmiki Basti, a colony where Gandhi once stayed - that was the location chosen for him to symbolically sweep a part of a narrow lane to launch the massive Clean India initiative.
While taking the Clean India pledge this morning at India Gate in the heart of Delhi, he said, "I urge every one of you to devote at least one hundred hours every year, two hours every week, towards cleanliness."
Ministers and other government officials have been ordered to clean their offices - including their toilets.
Many civil society organisations have also joined the campaign, spreading awareness in urban slums and villages by putting on street plays and distributing pamphlets with information about hygiene and sanitation.