Toilets before Temples: Modi’s Jairam moment; disappointment for people

Narendra Modi had his Jairam moment when he bypassed BJP’s Hindutva agenda and sought to place toilets before temples.

Narendra Modi is considered leader of the masses. He is hailed for his personal touch in the issues of the common man which turn the situations around making him a darling of the middle-class India. His ability to sense the pulse of the people and oratory which leaves masses chanting his name are his real assets.

But he too has some goof ups when it comes to the enthusiasm he shows for fulfilling his ambition. The recent can be taken from his address to some college students in Delhi. Modi, in his ambition to take the young India by his side raked up his party’s old stance in public.

“I am known to be a Hindutva leader. My image does not permit to say so, but I dare to say. My real thought is ‘Pehle shauchalaya, phir devalaya‘ (toilet first, temple later),” he said.

Well, no problem in his admitting this. The best dissent voice that we heard till up recently was from Congress’ very own Rahul Gandhi which changed the fate of an active politician and his own party had to chew its words.

Moreover, the need of toilets is actually more than temples in India. And this should not hurt any sentiments too because we Indians believe that we all have God in us and we are our own temple.

But what worries us here is that the use of words itself.

The term, if it can be called so, surfaced few months back when Jairam Ramesh was addressing people during a sanitizing campaign in his capacity of rural development minister in the UPA government. He had said that toilets should be built in villages before temples. “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 added.

His remarks, as opposed to BJP’s hindutva plank, drew major flak from the party. The BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy had said then that such comments would “destroy the fine fabric of religion and faith”. “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,” he had added.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal activists had even protested outside the minister’s residence.

Speaking to a news channel on Modi’s comment that toilets should be built before temples in India, Ramesh said, “I still believe we need more toilets than temples. I wish Modi had discovered this 20 years ago, then we would not have had the Babri Masjid episode.”

“When I spoke, Rajiv Pratap Rudy said I should respect the fine line between faith and religion. Then he went on to say that the BJP maintains that one should not get into the debate of whether a temple or toilet is more important. Prakash Javadekar also attacked me. Activists of the RSS and VHP came to my house and left bottles of urine. I wonder where they are now when Mr Modi has suddenly discovered the value of toilets,” Ramesh added.

Jairam Ramesh said that Modi was making whatever statements due to his ambition of becoming the Prime Minister. “I spoke out of conviction, Modi speaks out of compulsion,” Jairam Ramesh said.

The question here then stands – as Ramesh too speculates – Is Modi doing this to woo the voters?

He has been using up the famous line more too often. All is speeches have been full of quotes that can glide in the people’s mind. He had his own Obama moment when he told people to dream and chanted with them those golden three words – “yes! We can!”

It is another matter that some of his supporters found a tape of his which dated back to 2004 when Obama had not even surfaced the US political scene as Presidential candidate.

In-cashing on people’s sentiments has always been a game in Indian politics but the scenario has changed of late. Thanks to the conscience of people which has awaken and they refuse to be played at the hands of few leading the pack of politicians.

People are making their own choices and they are very well aware what they need. Development is the agenda and every party knows that.

In fact the last changes in the policies of political parties, ruling or opposing, has been based on this agenda only. There is nervousness and anxiety all over to gain the trust of people.

Who will know better than Congress whose vice-president just pulled up a charade, however noble the cause, to rise in public eye. It was an attempt to save a sinking ship which had holes in its theories of being a public-friendly government. But the idea was not lifted from somewhere. It may well be a conspiracy to become a hero and snatch credit from the opposing parties in stalling criminalization of politics, but it was undoubtedly an attempt made the way it should be.

But the Jairam moment that Modi had is a no do-gooder for him. Not only it questions his credibility as original thinker, it may also harm his stand in the party and outside. The Congress is already criticizing him over lifting Ramesh’s idea and realising things late.

The RSS and BJP must be fumigating inside but they are just supporting him in order to return back to power. The situation, if not equated to Rahul’s is no less than Rahul’s.

In the end, the disappointment would be of public’s who will realize that their leader is just an opportunist who lifts up quotes to woo them.

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