The BJP's riposte to Rahul Gandhi's "Ganga" attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi was delivered by union minister for water resources Uma Bharti. In many jibes and a word of advice when she said, "I urge Rahul Gandhi not to run away to Thailand as he is likely to once the assembly election results are out. He should come with me to the Ganga and if work to clean it has not started, either he can jump into the Ganga or I will."
- Rahul Gandhi attacked PM Modi over campaign to clean River Ganga
- Uma Bharti counters charge, says UP government hindering work
- Have allocated 7 times the funds to clean Ganga than earlier: Uma Bharti
That was said with absolute equanimity as the saffron-robed BJP leader told NDTV that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's partner in UP, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, has been the biggest impediment - "the enemy of Ganga," she said - in her department's mammoth efforts to clean the river.
"Work is on in four out of five states but the Uttar Pradesh government issued an order to all Ganga districts not to give a no-objection certificate (NoC) to the clean Ganga campaign... I can give you a copy of the order," the minister said, adding, in more advice for Rahul Gandhi, "Either he should throw Akhilesh off his bandwagon, or get off his."
Campaigning in Uttar Pradesh, for the final rounds of the assembly elections, Rahul Gandhi had on Thursday alleged that PM Modi has not kept an election promise to clean the Ganga.
Mr Gandhi was speaking at a public rally in Varanasi, the Prime Minister's parliamentary constituency, when he said, "Modi ji said that I am the son of UP, and Ganga is my mother and Maa Ganga has called me from Gujarat... Modi ji came to Ganga Maa and made a deal... he said Ganga Maa make me the Prime Minister first and then I will look after everything. Tell me what has he done for UP or for Ganga Maa? Did he clean up the Ganga?"
Rahul Gandhi's comments revealed a "small mind," Ms Bharti alleged. "The entire nation calls the Ganga their mother not just people from Gujarat... his mother Sonia Gandhi, who has talked to me very emotionally about the Ganga, should teach Rahul this," the minister added.
She said PM Modi was the first leader after Mahatma Gandhi to raise awareness on cleanliness. "We have given seven times more funds to clean the Ganga than earlier governments," Ms Bharti said, stating that work in the first phase would be over on schedule by October 2018 and the second phase would begin.
Her invitation to Mr Gandhi to inspect her work on the Ganga is for October 18, 2018.