Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh's Water Resources Minister Dharampal Singh knows his job pretty well and can speak confidently into the camera on how it is so important to keep the rivers clean. And he does, minutes after accompanying BJP lawmaker tossed a plastic water bottle into Saryu river.
The minister and lawmaker Priyanka Singh Rawat - along with an entourage of officials in cars blaring sirens - had travelled more than 100 km from Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow to the borders of the Barabanki district. They were on an inspection of an embankment on the Saryu, the ancient river that finds mention in the Vedas and Ramayana as well.
Officials had suggested that they take a round of river in their motor boat as well.
A plastic bottle in hand, BJP's Barabanki lawmaker is the first one to get onto the boat. By the time the minister climbs in, Ms Rawat has gulped down the water from the plastic bottle. Holding the bottle, she asks the minister what to do with it. Then, she looks around to see if someone would take it from her, the aides are busy getting in. so she tosses it into the river.
The bottle floats, like the tonnes of plastic waste including bottles that end up in Ganga and had prompted the National Green Tribunal to ban use of bottles around the river bank in neighbouring Uttarakhand.
After the short trip is over, the minister speaks into the cameras to lash out at the previous Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party governments that had built the embankment he had come to inspect. And then, to a question, about his government's commitment to "Aviral Ganga, Nirmal Ganga" (Uninterrupted and clean Ganga).
But, a reporter asked, you were drinking water and threw the bottle into the river?
"No, No, No... I said should not," he said. "We will not allow Ganga to be polluted," he said. Ms Rawat, who had standing by his side nodded in agreement, but let the without saying a word. The parliamentarian had made headlines in April when she threatened to "skin a police officer alive", allegedly because she did not like his attitude.
Ms Rawat had then invoked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the two top BJP leaders who had picked up a broom to launch the Swachh Bharat Mission.
PM Modi had also launched a 20,000 crore conservation mission to clean up Ganga in June 2014 to accomplish the twin objective of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.