Keeping the country clean is a national concern and no political meaning should be read into his support to it, he said.
     
"As such this is not a BJP campaign...I am not going to surrender Gandhiji to Modi... I am not going to surrender (Sardar) Patel to Modi," Tharoor asserted in a bid to silence critics after joining local residents in removing garbages at the coastal town Vizhinjam in his parliamentary constituency here.
     
Tharoor was earlier this month removed as All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesperson under pressure from Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) which urged the AICC to restrain him from lavishing praises on Modi and his initiatives like the "Swachh Bharat" mission.
     
Defending his active participation in the campaign, Tharoor said, "This is not the prerogative of any political party and the message of keeping one's surroundings clean was first given by Mahatma Gandhi."
     
"Gandhi had said sanitation was more important than independence. But for Gandhi, cleanliness of body and mind was equally important, which meant that ridding the heart of hatred and violence was important," Tharoor told reporters who confronted him with the question whether his action would not be dubbed as violation of party's warning.
      
The second-term Congress MP from Kerala capital said the AICC had also asked party workers to join a month long cleanliness drive from Gandhi Jayanthi day on October 2.

Evading a direct reply to the question whether this was part of the "Swachh Bharat" campaign, Tharoor said, "You can call it by any name but what is important is to keep the country clean. You see the local people around me. They include several Congress workers...What is important is to make the country clean, irrespective of party politics", he said.
     
Justifying his action, Tharoor on Friday tweeted "Vizhinjam beach, a splendid site ruined filth and garbage; which I will clean with the help of the local residents tomorrow."
     
Congress leaders in the state chose to refrain from making any adverse or positive comment on Tharoor's action.

However, in a dig at him, KPCC general secretary Ajay Tharayil said the party had decided to ignore his move.
     
Earlier this month, Tharoor was removed as an official spokesperson by AICC based on the complaint from the KPCC against his repeated adulatory remarks about Modi.
      
The KPCC report said Tharoor's adulatory comments on Modi wounded the sentiments of the Congress workers who toiled hard for his victory from Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat in 2009 and 2014.
   
Tharoor has, however, persistently held that his praise of certain initiatives of Modi did not mean that he ever backed the BJP's "Hindutva agenda" or that he was moving closer to the saffron party.
   
The Prime Minister had invited Tharoor along with other prominent people from different walks of life to joint his nationwide campaign.