Indian politician drinks water from polluted ‘holy’ river to impress supporters, gets hospitalised

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The chief minister of a north Indian state was briefly hospitalised two days after a viral video showed he downed a glass of polluted water from a “holy river” on the heels of a campaign to clean waterbodies.

The video of Punjab state chief minister Bhagwant Mann’s act of drinking water from the Kali Bein river in Punjab’s Sultanpur Lodhi city has gone viral after reports emerged of his subsequent alleged illness.

Mr Mann, who was elected the state’s chief minister in March, was admitted to neighbouring state Delhi’s Indraprastha Apollo Hospital on Tuesday, reported The Indian Express.

He fell ill with a severe stomach ache at his residence in Chandigarh city and had to be airlifted to Delhi, the report said, citing sources familiar with the incident.

People soon started linking his reported illness to him drinking water from the river, considered to be holy.

His office has, however, denied the chief minister fell ill and said Mr Mann went to the hospital for a routine checkup.

The chief minister was invited by lawmaker Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal to participate in the 22nd anniversary of the cleaning of the river.

Surrounded by saffron-clad religious seers, Mr Mann was seen scooping up a glass of water from the river and downing it amid loud cheers from the crowd, showed the video, which was also tweeted by the Punjab unit of his political outfit, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

AAP said in its tweet that Mr Mann drank “holy water at Sultanpur Lodhi, the land touched by Guru Nanak Sahib’s [Sikh religion’s founder] feet”.

The Independent has reached out to Mr Mann’s office for a statement.

The denial of illness, however, did not deter several social media users who dubbed it a “failed PR stunt” by saying that the contaminated water from the river was the reason behind his hospitalisation.

“Punjab Chief Minister openly drinks a glass of polluted water from a ‘holy river’ to prove that water is clean. Now admitted to hospital,” said Ashok Swain, a professor.

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