The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra was left red faced on Monday after a video of a senior minister urinating in public went viral, with many raising questions on the government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
A video clip showed Maharashtra Water Conservation Minister Ram Shinde urinating in public on the Solapur-Barshi Road while on an official tour on November 18.
Ironically, the video hit social media on Sunday, which was celebrated as World Toilet Day, causing major embarrassment to the ruling alliance.
However, Shinde defended himself on the grounds that he was unwell and had to relieve himself in the open while he was on a tour to see the implementation of the Jalyukt Shivar, a water conservation programme designed to make the state drought free.
“I was on a tour to check the programme implementation of Jalyukt Shivar and running a temperature. There was no toilet in the vicinity and so I relieved myself in the open,” Shinde said, justifying his action.
However, the opposition parties pounced on the minister, while social media attacked him for his indiscretion in full public view.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state spokesperson Nawab Malik said that the minister’s act showed that the government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was a failure.
“How does the prime minister expect the common people to follow discipline when his own leaders are an undisciplined lot? If the minister could not locate a toilet on the highway, it proves the government has been looting the masses in the name of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan cess on fuel,” Malik said.
Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Preeti Sharma-Menon also castigated the minister for relieving himself in public and asked why the police arrested ‘RightToPee’ activists outside the state chief minister’s home recently.
“They are fighting for your own minister, Ram Shinde, who was relieving himself in public. By the way, will your officers garland and shame him like they do to poor women?” Sharma-Menon asked in a terse tweet.