MPs pick up broom for 'Clean India' kick off row

New Delhi: BJP MPs Anurag Thakur and Hema Malini participate in Swachhata Abhiyan at Parliament House, in New Delhi, on Saturday. PTI

Parliamentarians on Saturday picked up the broom to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet 'Clean India' initiative but kicked off more than dirt — a controversy.

The two-day special cleanliness drive in Parliament House premises was launched by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Saturday with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union ministers and host of other parliamentarians in attendance to clean up the heritage precincts.

Besides the speaker and the defence minister, Union ministers Pralhad Joshi, Harsh Vardhan, S Jaishankar, Anurag Thakur, Hardeep Puri, Ratanlal Kataria among others participated with enthusiasm to clean up the Parliament Building premises that were divided into seven zones.

While Thakur, the junior minister for finance, was seen clearing the bits of trash with gusto, Hema Malini appeared ill at ease with the broom, triggering an avalanche of criticism on social media.

“Ma’am please practice how to wield the broom in private before your next photo op. This technique you’ve employed won’t contribute much to improving cleanliness in Mathura (or anywhere else for that matter),” former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said on Twitter.

Abdullah also wondered what were the ministers and lawmakers cleaning as Parliament complex was one of the cleanest places in the country, particularly when the House is in session.

“Basanti is really only posing with the jhaadu. She's not even pretending to try,” said Zainab Sikander, who describes herself as a writer and political observer. She was referring to Hema Malini by her character in Bollywood blockbuster Sholay.

“Hope this will be done everyday by these BJP leaders everyday morning when Parliament is in session,” Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar.

“When it comes to trying sweeping Fakhar Zaman is way more better than Hema Malini ji at least Fakhar Zaman tried,” said one Subham, posting a photograph of the Pakistani batsman playing a sweep shot.

Hema Malini appeared unfazed by the criticism and announced that she would launch a cleanliness drive in her parliamentary seat Mathura next week.

“It is highly appreciative that the Speaker took initiative to carry out 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan' on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, in Parliament premises. I will go back to Mathura next week and carry out this Abhiyan there as well,” the actor-turned-parliamentarian said.

The Lok Sabha Speaker, Union ministers, and parliamentarians also took a pledge to spread the message of cleanliness across the country.

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