The Congress on Saturday appeared to disapprove of Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh for his comment that there were more temples in the country than toilets.

“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.”

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

The BJP hit out at Mr. 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 that Mr. Ramesh had made a political statement here and advised him to instead concentrate on “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,” Mr. Rudy said.

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