Indian politician faces flak over staged photo

A resident sweeps a carpet at the launch of a Clean India Campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, October 2014. A politician faces flak over a staged cleaning photo (AFP Photo/Chandan Khanna)

Ever since new Prime Minister Narendra Modi wielded a broom to launch his 'Clean India' campaign last month, high-profile figures have been falling over themselves to be photographed sweeping the streets.

But for one hapless politician, the move backfired after a worker was photographed scattering leaves just so he could pose sweeping them up.

The images exposing Satish Upadhyay, a New Delhi leader of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), went viral on social media after they were published by the Mail Today newspaper this week.

By Friday morning, #CheatingCleanIndia was trending as India's most used hashtag as Twitter users rushed to condemn the photo opportunity.

One user, Niraj Surana, tweeted that there was now a "large demand for VIP garbage like dry leaves (non-stinking)".

"Just when I thought something good is finally happening since the new government, you see hypocrite leaders #CheatingCleanIndia," posted another user, Suraj Bajaj.

Modi launched his 'Clean India' campaign with much fanfare on October 2, exhorting ministers and civil servants in the status-conscious country to take part in a mass clean-up of government buildings.

Since then dozens of politicians, movie stars and industrialists, including actor Salman Khan and business tycoon Anil Ambani, have got in on the act.

Upadhyay defended himself, saying he had been invited to a clean-up event and blaming the organisers.

"Whoever has done it, it hasn't been done right," he told CNN-IBN news channel.

"The campaign launched by the PM Modi is not just for photo-ops."