By NVOnews.Com Correspondent,
New Delhi: A comment made by the Union Rural Development Minister, Jairam Ramesh, has created storm in the saffron camp with the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena seeking public apology from him.
Emphasizing on the importance of toilets, Ramesh said that it is no less essential than temple. The minister said that he thinks that building a toilet is more pious (pavitra) a work than making a temple.
The BJP and Shiv Sena took strong exception to his remarks. Criticizing it the party spokesman Prakash Javedkar said that there is absolutely no need to play with the people’s emotion and that there is no scope of equating toilets with temples. He also sought immediate apology from the minister.
BJP also flayed Ramesh for stating that in India there are more templews than toilets. It said the ministers should not make such statements which hurt the “fine fabric of faith and religion” in the country.
“Making of toilets and having faith in a religious place of worship are two different things,” the party spokesman added.
On the other hand Shiv Sena said that the minister like him should be shut in the latrine for one or two hours. The Sena spokesman alleged that the minister had tried to malign the image of temples just to consolidate the Muslim vote-bank.
In fact Jairam Ramesh was on Friday launching from Sewagram in Wardha district of Maharashtra the maiden Nirmal Bharat Yatra (The Great Wash Yatra) to address sanitation crisis in India. This is the same town from where Mahatma Gandhi launched “Quit India Movement”.
Ramesh not only stopped at temple; but he equated the Nirmal Bharat Yatra to make India ‘Open Defecation Free’ with ‘India’s Freedom Struggle.’
He said lack of sanitation is a huge problem in India. The country loses approximately 6.4 per cent of the GDP in health costs, productivity losses and reduced tourism revenue due to inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
The Congress party, however, appeared to have distanced itself from the Rural Development Minister’s comment.
“We respect the sanctity of every religious place irrespective of the community it belongs to. I do not know the statement attributed to Ramesh. Perhaps it could have been distorted and he is in the best position to explain,” was how the party spokesman, Manish Tewari, reacted.
Talking to reporters in Delhi on Saturday he said “Congress party believes in sarvadharmasambhav. Equal respect for all religions. Equal respect for all religious places”, he said.
The Nirmal Bharat Yatra is a mega campaign on sanitation and hygiene in India. It is an initiative supported by the Government of India’s Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) and Eawag, a Swiss research agency. The Yatra will visit various rural locations in India and will travel to five states where sanitation is vital. It will pass through six towns––Indore, Kota, Gwalior, Gorakhpur, Bettiah and villages on its way, and aim to reach around 90 million people.