New Delhi: Congress Thursday downplayed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's move to nominate party spokesperson Shashi Tharoor among nine eminent persons invited to come to public places to spread awareness about the Swachh Bharat campaign.
Former minister and Congress leader Rajiv Shukla said that any conclusion like "Tharoor inching towards the BJP" should not be drawn on the pretext of somebody being invited for a function by the government.
Holding that the initiative of Swachh Bharat is "clearly a good thing", Shukla, however, said "it should not remain a mere photo opportunity" and added that "apprehensions are that it may become symbolic."
While maintaining that Congress has nothing to be surprised over the invite to Tharoor, he felt that other leaders should also have been invited.
"That should not be the basis of any speculation about any individual. So I do not buy that. But at the same time I think that everybody should have been invited. Why only one or two individual?
"This is basically a programme given by Mahatma Gandhi, which the Congress has always been doing. The government and the Prime Minister himself accepted that Congress Seva Dal has always been doing this. He has appreciated Congress leaders...."
On the invite to Tharoor, who had on last few occasions including during Modi's speech in the UNGA a few days back, appreciated the Prime Minister, Shukla said, "Why should we be surprised about it?”
"There are lot many things, which every government has to do and the Opposition has to cooperate.... Government and Opposition together do a lot many things."
"I request the Prime Minister that he ensures that the drive continues. It's not that it should be there only for one, two or three days. Apprehensions are that it may become symbolic."
He also said that Mahatma Gandhi should be accepted in totality and not in piecemeal. "Not that we accept certain aspects of Gandhi and defy others...," he said.
Others, who were invited by Modi include ace cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, film stars Kamal Haasan, Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra, industrialist Anil Ambani, Yoga Guru Ramdev and Goa Governor and author Mridula Sinha.
"I have invited 9 people and asked them to come to public places and work towards a Clean India. I ask them to invite 9 more people too," the Prime Minister said on Twitter.
In other tweets, he gave the details, "I have invited Mridula Sinha ji, I have invited Sachin Tendulkar, @yogrishiramdev, @ShashiTharoor, Kamal Haasan, @priyankachopra: I have invited @BeingSalmanKhan, team of Tarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chashma."