Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Thursday said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s toilets first and temples later remark should be seen as a clear case of political opportunism, rather than as an appeal of conviction.
“The prime ministerial aspirant has spoken, and it demonstrates that in this search for the Prime Minister’s post, this PM aspirant of the BJP, is capable of saying anything and doing anything. It is not conviction that has made Modi say this, it is political compulsion,” he told media here today.
He further questioned the ideals of BJP leaders who had raised a huge outcry when a similar statement was made by him at Sevagram on October 5 last year.
“I had made a similar statement that India needs more toilets and less places of worship. BJP, RSS, Bajrang Dal, VHP activists protested outside my house, kept bottles of urine as a token of their presence, and I was met with black flags and my effigies being burnt,” he said.
“Why are they silent today? Where is Mr. Rajiv Pratap Rudy who accused me of destroying the fine fabric of faith and religion? Where is Mr. Prakash Javadekar who was very vocal on how I had defamed religion? All these people are quiet today,” he added.
He also mocked Modi by saying that the latter has finally found enlightenment and recognised the importance of toilets over places of worship.
“I wish he had got this enlightenment 22 years ago, India would have been spared of the Babri Masjid tragedy, communal riots in different parts of the country, Bombay blasts, and indeed the Godhra riots,” he said.
Modi's toilets first and temples later remark was made at a function organised for the youth.
"I am known to be a Hindutva leader. My image does not permit to say so, but I dare to say. My real thought is - 'Pehle shauchalaya, phir devalaya' (toilets first, temples later)," he said, and added that lakhs of rupees have already been spent on temples in villages, but none spent on creating toilets there.