New Delhi: Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh has created a controversy by saying that toilets are more important than temples in India.
Addressing a gathering of Panchayat-level workers on Friday, Ramesh said as per The Indian Express, “Sixty-four percent of Indians defecate in open spaces, which is a global record. It is now reckoned as the main cause of India’s malnutrition problem.”
Praising the sanitation model of Hivre Bajar and Ralegan Siddhi, the Union Minister said every village in the country should replicate such model.
The BJP today hit out at Ramesh for his comment, 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 gurdwara 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".
Congress also appeared to disapprove of the Rural Development Minister’s 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 said reporters.