New Delhi: Days after she was shunted out of the Water Resources Ministry, Union minister Uma Bharti today said it was not because she had failed in implementing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet ‘Namami Gange’ project.
Bharti trashed speculation that she was shifted to the low-profile Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry as Modi was unhappy with her performance, saying the prime minister had “chided” her only twice in three years “for being fat” and no other reason.
The saffron clad leader also said she would undertake a yatra to create awareness about keeping the Ganga, considered holy by Hindus, clean.
“It was claimed that I failed (at WRD ministry).
Yesterday, Nitinji (Gadkari) himself said he was associated with me on the issues of Ganga.
“How come he got the portfolio if we failed? This means, we did not fail on the clean Ganga front. Whatever groundwork was required to be done was done,” she told reporters.
She said nobody can come between her and the Ganga, and announced she would undertake a march as the drinking water and sanitation minister to spread awareness among people on maintaining cleanliness in villages along the river.
Replying to a question, she, however, made it clear that the yatra should not be seen as “defiance” as it was planned a year ago.
She thanked Modi for giving her the opportunity to launch the yatra, which would begin in October and continue in phases over a year.
Insisting that her performance in the Water Resources Ministry had nothing to do with her having been shifted, Bharti said Modi chided her only twice during her stint there for being fat.
“That was the only reason he scolded me for… Whenever I said the (Namami Gange) project was getting delayed, he himself would say that the project was complex and ask me not to worry. I thank him for showing sensitivity,” she said.
Bharti said it was under her that the river interlinking projects came out of official files. She said Ken-Betwa interlinking project was about to take off and Damanganga-Par- Tapi-Narmada was “in the queue”.
Maintaining that almost all villages along the Ganga have already become open defecation free (ODF), Bharti said the yatra will aim at making them “ODF Plus”, seeking to further clean them.
“The government alone cannot keep the river clean.
People’s participation is a must. I will speak to people about that,” she added.