Toilet-temple comment shows BJP double standards: Jairam Ramesh

New Delhi, Oct 3 (IANS) Union Minister Jairam Ramesh Thursday accused the BJP of double standards after its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi said toilets had to be the bigger priority, over temples, in India.

"In his search for the prime minister's position, this aspirant (Narendra Modi) can say anything and do anything. If they had got this wisdom 22 years ago, then Indian politics would have been different," Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters here.

"I spoke out of conviction, Modi speaks out of compulsion. I had also said the same thing, and the BJP had opposed it. It is a matter of regret that nobody defended me then," he said.

Addressing college students Wednesday, Narendra Modi rued that many Indians still do not have access to basic sanitation.

"My image is that of Hindutva, but I'll tell you my real thinking: I have said, in my state, 'Pehle shauchalaya, phir devalaya'. (First toilets, then temples)," Modi said.

Ramesh said when he had expressed similar views, the BJP had attacked him.

"When I spoke, Rajiv Pratap Rudy said I should respect the fine line between faith and religion. Activists of the RSS and VHP came to my house and left bottles of urine. I wonder where they are now, when Modi has suddenly discovered the value of toilets," he said.

"Babri Masjid would not have happened, the 1993 blasts would not have happened, Godhra would also not have happened if they (BJP) had got this wisdom then," the rural development minister said.

"India needs more toilets than temples, churches and gurdwaras. We have too much emphasis on places of worship," Ramesh said.

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh too said that the remark exposed the double standards of the country's chief opposition party.

Jairam Ramesh drew flak from the BJP in April when he said that toilets are more important than 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 said.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal activists had, at that time, protested outside the minister's residence.