Jairam Ramesh`s toilet remark draws protest

Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh has created a controversy by saying that toilets are more important than temples in India.

Updated: Oct 07, 2012, 16:36 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal on Sunday protested outside the residence of Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh here for his comment that there are more temples in the country than toilets.

The activists have demanded an apology from Ramesh for his recent remark.

On Friday, Ramesh remarked that "toilets are more important than temples. No matter how many temples we go to, we are not going to get salvation. We need to give priority to the toilets and cleanliness".

The opposition and others have also criticised Ramesh`s remarks.

Meanwhile, police said they do not have any information about the protest before Jairam Ramesh`s house.

The Ministry for Rural Development is set to launch a nationwide sanitation drive, Nirmal Bharat Yatra, to end open defecation.

The drive was meant to be launched on Thursday, but was indefinitely put off after heavy rain lashed Wardha, Maharashtra, from where the drive was set to begin. Mahatma Gandhi`s Sewagram ashram is located at wardha.

On Saturday, the BJP also hit out at Ramesh, saying he 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. India is a multicultural country where we should have unblemished faith in a temple, a mosque, a gurudwara or a church. You cannot juxtapose the two," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

He alleged Ramesh has made a political statement here and advised him to instead concentrate "salvaging the battered image of the UPA government".

The BJP maintained that one should not get into the debate of what- a temple or a toilet- is more important.

"While (public) toilets, which have to be built by the administration, are necessary, religion is important as people have faith in it. It would be good for Mr Ramesh that out of his exuberance he stops making such comments which will destroy the fine fabric of religion and faith," Rudy said.

Meanwhile, Congress also appeared to disapprove of Ramesh for his comment, saying "we respect the sanctity of every religious place".

"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."

"Congress party believes in sarvadharmasambhav. Equal respect for all religions. Equal respect for all religious places", party spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters.

(With PTI inputs)