New Delhi: Jairam Ramesh has launched an acidic attack on Narendra Modi for his "more toilets than temples" comment, saying it is borne out of his "blind desire for the Prime Minister's position."
Mr Modi had said yesterday, "My identity is of a Hindutvawadi, but I say build toilets before you build temples," ruing the fact that many Indians still do not have access to basic sanitation. (Make toilets before temples: Narendra Modi tells students in Delhi)
The union minister told NDTV today, "He's got enlightenment finally, but 22 years too late. Had he had the same realization earlier India would have been spared the trauma of the Babri Masjid tragedy and subsequent events.. - the Bombay blasts, Godhra and its consequences. The communalization that took place on account of this temple movement, which was masterminded by Modi amongst others."
And he added sarcastically, "But I am glad that Modi, 22 years later, is a changed man."
Mr Ramesh's ire is grounded in the fact that when he made a similar comment last year, he was subjected to not just sharp criticism from the BJP, but also gross acts vandalism by alleged members of BJP-affiliated outfits like the Bajrang Dal.
"BJP workers and supporters came and urinated in front my house. Where was Modi then? Where was he when I was being attacked by Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Prakash Javdekar and others?" he said today.
A year ago, almost to the day, Mr Ramesh, then Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation., had said, "I think 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 toilets and cleanliness."
BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy slammed him saying, "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."