New Delhi: Talking to reporters two days after she was transferred from the Water Resources Ministry, Uma Bharti said she was not moved because of her performance.
In the recently held cabinet reshuffle, Bharti was transferred from Water Resources Ministry to what is considered as a lower-profile drinking water and sanitation ministry.
She said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had "chided" her only twice in three years "for being fat" and no other reason.
"That was the only reason he scolded me for... Whenever I said the (Namami Gange) project was getting delayed, he himself would say that the project was complex and ask me not to worry. I thank him for showing sensitivity," she said on Tuesday.
Bharti went on to say that she would continue with her yatra on Ganga as was planned before the reshuffle. She told reporters not to consider the yatra as an act of defiance.
"Nobody can come between me and the Ganga," she told reporters, adding, "It [the yatra] shouldn't be seen as an act of defiance since I'd planned it a year ago."
Bharti also denied allegations that she was shunted out since she couldn't execute Modi's favourite 'Namami Gange' project to his satisfaction.
"It was claimed that I failed. Yesterday, Nitinji (Gadkari) himself said he was associated with me on the issues of Ganga. How come he got the portfolio if we failed? This means, we did not fail on the clean Ganga front. Whatever groundwork was required to be done was done," she said.
She thanked Modi for giving her the opportunity to launch the yatra, which will begin in October and will continue in phases over a year.
Bharti said that it was under her that the river interlinking projects came out of official files. She said Ken-Betwa interlinking project was about to take off and Daman Ganga-Par-Tapi-Narmada project was "in the queue".
Maintaining that almost all villages along the Ganga have already become open defecation free (ODF), Bharti said the yatra will aim at making them "ODF-Plus", seeking to further clean them.
"The government alone cannot keep the river clean. People's participation is a must. I will speak to people about that," she added.