The Maharashtra government was caught on the hop after a video of the state Water Conservation Minister Ram Shinde purportedly urinating on the roadside went viral on social media.
According to a report by the Times of India, the incident occurred on November 18 when the minister was the inspecting water conservation projects at Malegaon village in Barshi. He was travelling on a stretch between Solapur-Barshi road in his car when he was filmed peeing in the middle of an open field.
Reacting to the controversy, Shinde said that he was feeling ill after spending a month touring the state for the state government’s Jalyukta Shivar Programme. He told PTI,
I have been travelling continuously from the last one month taking a review of the Jalyukta Shivar scheme. Continuous travelling at high temperatures and dust made me ill. I was suffering from fever today and when I couldn’t find a toilet while travelling, I had to relieve myself in the open.
Reacting to the incident, the opposition NCP took a potshot at Shinde saying that being unable to find a toilet on the highway was a failure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik told PTI,
If the minister did not find a toilet on a highway, it means the government has all along been looting people in the name of Swacch Bharat cess on fuel. The minister has proved that the whole scheme is nothing but a big failure.
The Aam Aadmi Party also took a dig at PM Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Here’s what the party tweeted:
महाराष्ट्राचे जलसंधारण मंत्री राम शिंदेंची उघड्यावरच लघुशंका ; मोदींच्या स्वच्छ भारत अभियानाला फासला हरताळ..!https://t.co/8IlUflScic
— AAP महाराष्ट्र (@AAPMaharashtra) November 19, 2017
This news came in ahead of World Toilet Day which was celebrated on November 19. According to a Water Aid report, 732 million Indians still don’t have access to basic sanitation.
Earlier, a picture of the Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh urinating in the open had gone viral on the social media in June this year. The incident drew a sharp reaction from social media users wherein people questioned the success of the Swachh Bharat Mission.