Cleanliness drive not tokenism: PM to BJP workers in Varanasi

Modi said as people had started to shun single-use plastic, it was also important to take care of garbage and recycle it.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the BJP workers from his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi on Thursday that the cleanliness drive launched by his government was not limited to tokenism and was a lifelong effort if change had to be brought.

He also urged the party workers to inform the common man about the various social welfare schemes launched by the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government, saying people were benefitting from schemes such as Ayushman Bharat not because those belonged to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but as those were meant to benefit every citizen of the country.

Addressing the party workers ahead of Diwali via a video link, Modi said this festive season, people should make it a point to buy Khadi products so that weavers and other artisans associated with small-scale industries could celebrate the festival of lights with a smile on their faces.

He also reminded them not to waste food and sweets and to share it with those who could not afford to buy it. The prime minister said food and sweets should be shared with others without hurting their dignity.

Modi also said when we celebrate Diwali with our family members, it is our duty to convey our best wishes to those who work for us, at the borders and within the country, whether they belonged to the security forces, were police or National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel.

"I bow down to all such people," he said, referring to the recent rains and floods in several parts of the country. The prime minister said the Swachh Bharat campaign or the cleanliness drive launched by his government was not limited to a few days as a token, but was a lifelong effort if people were actually interested in bringing about a change in the society.

Till a few years ago, only 40 per cent people in the country had access to toilets, he said, adding that in the last 60 months, 60 crore toilets were built, to drive home the point that focussed efforts were required to maintain the tempo for the Swachh Bharat initiative.

Modi said as people had started to shun single-use plastic, it was also important to take care of garbage and recycle it. He said he recently saw on television that a person had stared a "garbage restaurant", where a customer could pay using plastic for food.

"There are various ways through which people are working for the country," the prime minister said. Workers of the Apna Dal, an ally of the BJP, also attended the event. Responding to a question on his recent US tour and the "Howdy, Modi!" event, the prime minister said it was not him, but the 130 crore countrymen who were responsible for the growing international clout of India.

He also advised the partymen to prepare a list of old workers of the saffron party and hold a "milan samaroh" once a year. "Make a list of the old workers. Ensure that a 'milan samaroh' is held once a year," Modi said. "Our party was not formed suddenly.

Four generations of workers have toiled," he said, while advising the party cadre to reach out to the old workers in groups. "If you work with them, you will get inspiration. You should also ask them about the party's history," the prime minister said.

Stating that the lanes of Varanasi were its pride, he said, "Earlier, one would find it difficult walking through the lanes, which were encroached, to have a darshan of Bhole Baba and Ma Ganga. The Kashi Vishwanath Dham corridor is changed now and the visitors express their happiness at this."

In the process, thousands of ancient temples, which were buried underneath, were found and Varanasi got a new identity, Modi said, adding that most people knew that the entire "darbar" (court) of "Baba" was now present in the city.

Without the support of the residents of Varanasi, this would not have been possible, the prime minister said.

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