New Delhil: Union Minister Jairam Ramesh today taunted Narendra Modi over his recent controversial remark on toilets, saying that the Congress-led government had initiated programme of building lakhs of toilets "when some leaders had not attained enlightenment."
Taking a jibe at the BJP`s Prime Ministerial candidate, Ramesh, who kicked up several controversies in the process of highlighting the issue of open defecation in the country, said that the step for building lakhs of toilets in villages was taken months ago by the UPA government.
"I am happy that in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and very importantly in Bihar where 10 lakh toilets are being constructed in the year 2013-14, which is the contribution of the MNREGA," he said.
"So the first step we took through toilets. And this step was taken fifteen months ago when some leaders had not attained enlightenment. They were thinking of `devalayas` (temples) then," Ramesh, who launched the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan campaign last year to create awareness about the need for toilets, added.
The Rural Development said this while he was explaining to reporters in a press conference he jointly held with Food minister K V Thomas, how work related to construction of permanent structures like toilets, anganwadis can now be taken up under MNREGA scheme and food storage godowns will also soon be added to the list.
Earlier, addressing a UN programme also Ramesh took potshots at Modi.
"Toilets are now one of the most important political issue in the country," he said while speaking on lack of basic facilities for million migrant workers across the country at a UN function organised to launch a UNESCO publication titled "Social Inclusion of Internal Migrants in India".
At a function organised for the youth earlier this month, Modi had said, "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)."