Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, who was earlier criticised by Sangh outfits for favouring toilets over temples, on Thursday targeted Narendra Modi for speaking on the same lines, saying it was borne out of his “blind desire for the prime minister post.”

Mr. Modi was making such statements due to his ambition of becoming prime minister. “I spoke out of conviction, Modi speaks out of compulsion. I am very happy that the Gujarat Chief Minister has finally found enlightenment and recognised the importance of toilets,” Mr. Ramesh said.

“I wish if he [Modi] had got this enlightenment 22 years ago, India would have been spared the Babri Masjid tragedy, India would have been spared the communal riots in different parts of the country, India would have been spared the Bombay blasts and indeed India may have been spared Godhra and what happened afterwards, he said.

Mr. Ramesh was reacting to Mr. Modi’s remarks that toilets were the priority over temples. Mr. Ramesh, while holding the portfolio of sanitation last year said: “there are more temples in the country than toilets.” This triggered protests from Sangh Parivar outfits like the VHP and the Bajrang Dal, whose activists even urinated outside his official residence in protest. “No matter how many temples we go to, we are not going to get salvation. We need to give priority to toilets and cleanliness,” he had said.

BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy said then that such comments would “destroy the fine fabric of religion and faith.”

Mr. Ramesh highlighted Gujarat’s deficiencies and its shortcomings with regard to toilets. The State government, in 2011-12, claimed that 82 per cent of the rural population had access to sanitation.

“The census of 2011 revealed that only 34 per cent of Gujarat was covered by sanitation. This is the story of Gujarat. The so-called Gujarat model is a model based on half truths, falsehoods and gross exaggerations,” he said.

Mr. Ramesh said Mr. Modi would “rewrite [Lord Vishnu’s mythological] Dasavatar before Lok Sabha polls and we will need a new serial in mythology called shatavatar with the 100 incarnations of Mr. Modi.” “But this particular incarnation of a man who gives more priority to toilets than the places of worship is something that I think should be welcomed by everybody,” he added.

“Where is Mr. Rudy, who accused me of destroying the fine fabric of faith and religion? Where is Mr. Prakash Javadekar who waxed eloquent on how I had defamed religion? All these people are quiet today,” he said.

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