NEW DELHI: Appealing to his opponents for not to drag politics into the cleanliness drive, Prime minister Narendra Modi on Monday asserted that even 1,000 Mahatma Gandhis could not achieve the goal of a 'clean India' without the participation of 125 crore Indians.
"...If you have to abuse Modi, there are a thousand (other) issues...but we should neither make fun nor politicize issues which are meant to bring about change in society," Modi said while addressing a gathering on the occasion to mark three years of his Swachch Bharat campaign. He also said that he had been severely criticized when he had initiated the programme and stepped out with a broom to launch it.
Reacting on people’s making mockery of him when he asked children to wash their hands before eating as unhygienic conditions had led to several children dying, the prime minister said people went to the extent of saying that the prime minister was making these statements just for the purpose of making a speech.
“ People including fellow politicians, had slammed me for "spoiling" children's October 2 holiday,” PM Modi said.
"We cannot achieve the target (of a Clean India) even if 1,000 Mahatma Gandhis, one lakh Narendra Modis, chief ministers and all governments come together. We can achieve it (only) when all 125 crore countrymen come together," Modi told the gathering while asserting that he was convinced that the path shown by Mahatma Gandhi could not be wrong.
"But my nature is such that I endure a lot of things. My responsibility is such that I should endure. Slowly, I am increasing my capacity to endure (criticism)...For three years, without hesitation, I continued. I continued as I was sure that the path shown by the Mahatma and what he had said cannot be wrong," Modi said.
Modi added that the country had come a long way but a lot remained to be done before the 'clean India' target could be achieved.
While noting contribution of members of civil society and media to propagate the important of cleanliness, PM Modi there was need for introspection if the programme had not gained the desired momentum, notwithstanding the support from these sections.
Modi said the issue of cleanliness should be looked at from the prism of women, who face difficulties due to lack of toilets, and lauded children for being ambassadors of the key programme.