Chandigarh: In an embarrassment to ruling BJP in Haryana, state Minister Krishan Kumar Bedi was caught on tape while allegedly mocking the Prime Minister's pet 'Swachh Bharat' campaign, prompting the opposition to take a swipe at the state government over "lack of seriousness".
"Don't know what all Modi will make us do," Bedi, who is Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, is purportedly heard saying in TV footage as he held a broom in his hand while cleaning a ground in Fatehabad.
After the Minister's remarks, other officials present at the spot with him burst into laughter. When Bedi noticed that his comments may have been captured by media present at the spot, he asked them, "I hope you are not recording it. Don't make me land in any trouble".
The video has since gone viral on the social media.
Bedi along with senior officials of the Fatehabad district administration was cleaning the ground at Panchayat Bhawan in Haryana's Fatehabad yesterday on the conclusion of a sanitation campaign there.
When reporters later sought clarification from Bedi about his remarks, the Minister, who was attending another function in Kaithal, said: "We are committed to the Swachh Bharat campaign. We want that entire Haryana should not only be clean, but healthy too".
"Someone had brought to my notice that some officials are not taking the campaign seriously. I was telling the officials that some people are trying to publicise the fact that they (officials) are being forced to pick up the broom because of (PM) Modi."
"I was bringing this fact to their notice that such an impression should not go out (that officials were not willingly picking up the broom to clean). Now, if someone has done some (video) recording and linked with my comment in this manner, then it is not right. I was only apprising the officials and the whole issue was in that context only and not anything else".
Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar said BJP ministers "are not keen on real service and tackling real issues, but they just believe in tokenism".
State's main opposition INLD's senior leader Abhay Chautala said: "This shows how serious the government and its ministers are about campaigns launched by (PM) Modi".
The incident has caused embarrassment to the Manohar Lal Khattar Government in Haryana, which will complete one year in office this month.
However, this is not the first time when Khattar's Ministers have courted controversy. In January this year, Bedi was in the midst of another controversy when Kurukshetra's Civil Surgeon Vandana Bhatia had complained that Bedi had allegedly misbehaved with her over telephone, a charge which had been trashed by the Minister then.
Congress leader Ashok Tanwar said the Minister's remarks also show "that people feel suffocated in the BJP".
"There is authoritarian attitude of top leadership of the BJP because of which sentiments in this manner are coming out in public," he said.
Abhay Chautala, who is Leader of Opposition, said before polls, BJP made tall promises to the people and when they allegedly failed to deliver, their Ministers make such statements to divert the attention of the people.
Earlier this year, Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma had landed stoked a controversy by allegedly using objectionable language against Jawaharlal Nehru. Later on, the senior Minister had apologised, saying he did not mean to be disrespectful or to hurt anyone's sentiments.
Haryana's Agriculture Minister OP Dhankar had also drawn flak for his remarks on farmers committing suicide.