Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Monday for twisting a statement he made four years ago on the urgent need for sanitation.

Mr. Modi had accused Mr. Ramesh at a rally in his home district of Chikmagalur of insulting Mother India while abroad by describing India as the dirtiest and laziest country in the world.

Mr. Modi said, “He goes to a foreign land, eats food in his aunty’s house and starts abusing his mother [India].”

In a letter to Mr. Modi, Mr. Ramesh recalled that what he had said was, “India deserves a Nobel Prize for filth [and that] India has the largest number [and proportion] of people practising open defecation… India’s salvation lies in sanitation and not just in spirituality.” He also pointed out that Mr. Modi had endorsed this view in the past.

“I know you make outrageous statements,” Mr. Ramesh has written, “However, even by your own standards, your accusation against me is bizarre. I have never said what you attribute to me… It is clear that even by mistake, you are clearly incapable of speaking the truth.”

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