In a big embarrassment to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party, the beneficiaries of the government schemes, who were invited from across Rajasthan to attend his rally in Jaipur on Saturday were forced to defecate in the open.
These beneficiaries were brought from all around the state and made to stay in Mohana fruit market, close to the venue of Modi’s rally, a day in advance. Even though some reports said that the BJP-led government had splashed a whopping Rs 7.23 crore in transporting these people, the organisers did not make arrangements for toilets and simply left hundreds of glass bottles for them to carry water for open defecation.
One person told ABP News, “What to do? We will have to do according to the instructions of the government.” When he was asked why everyone was defecating in the open, he replied, “Everyone is going (defecating). Women too are going.” Another beneficiary said, “There’s no arrangement for toilets. What should we do?” When asked why they did not raise this issue with the organiser, the man holding a plastic bottle, said, “We asked them. They told us to go and defecate in the open.”
This assumes significance in light of Modi’s pet scheme, Swacch Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) that he had launched with great fanfare after he the prime minister. According to one estimate, 2,38,000 beneficiaries were invited to attend Modi’s rally on Saturday.
However, the absence of toilet wasn’t the only woes these people had to face on Saturday. After they arrived at the rally venue, many of them were turned away because of the colour of their attire. Peopling wearing black and blue clothes were barred from attending Prime Minister Modi’s rally. They also included a group of people, who had travelled 800 kms to be in the state capital for the rally.
As they reached the venue, they were asked to remove their black shirts and t-shirts.
Modi was in Jaipur to meet the beneficiaries of the flagship schemes of his government and the government of Rajasthan. The BJP supporters were perhaps worried about what had taken place in March this year, when a number of them had waved black flags and chanted anti-Vasundhara Raje slogans. Raje is the chief minister of Rajasthan and faces growing anti-incumbency after nearly five years of her rule in the state.
The state goes to elections later this year.
Meanwhile, Congress, the state’s principal opposition party, was quick to slam the BJP for wasting public money. Former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said, “The entire show which was organised with government funds was turned into a political event where funds worth crore of rupees were wasted.” News agency IANS also quoted Gehlot as saying that all constitutional limits were crossed in the presence of Governor Kalyan Singh.
“The government programme was turned into a political event. Both (Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara) Raje and Modi smashed all records in praising each other. Had they shown the same respect and regard for each other in last four years, the state wouldn’t have been ignored the way it is,” he said.