Union minister Girija Vyas today blamed lack of toilet facilities for women for a large number of rape cases in the country and suggested that legislators contribute a quarter of the funds allocated to them towards providing proper toilets in their area.
Asked about the recent controversy over BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's "toilets first - temples later" remark, she said that this has been UPA government's motto and the Gujarat Chief Minister was free to adopt it in his state. "Constructing proper toilets has always been our government's statement. The government is committed towards this. If somebody catches our statement, then I cannot say anything about it. He (Modi) can do it in Gujarat. Union minister Jairam Ramesh had specifically said this. One can see our budget and there are funds allocated especially for this," the Union minister for housing and urban poverty alleviation said on the sidelines of an event.
She was of the opinion that every legislator should contribute a certain amount of the funds allocated to them towards providing proper toilets. "Many bills regarding this have already been passed. The government is doing so much for sanitation. Many cases of rape takes place as women have to go out to answer nature's call as there are lack of proper toilets. This has come out in a number of studies which have been undertaken. I think, legislators should also donate 25% from their funds to this issue," Vyas said.
Asked about Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh hinting at a Third Front government after the election, Vyas said the UPA will form the government for the third time. "I do not know what SP is saying but this time also we will make the government. UPA-3 will be coming again," Vyas told reporters.
The Minister said she was saddened by the death of a lab assistant of Delhi University, who had set herself afire seven days ago after alleging sexual harassment by a college principal and promised strict action against those behind it. "I am very saddened by the incident. Strict action should be taken against those who are responsible for it. We cannot bring her back but whatever demand she had, it should be fulfilled. It should also be kept in mind that in future, which ever government is there, different institutions should be looked into and wherever there are such grievances, it should be heard," Vyas said.