The Shiv Sena on Wednesday slammed the BJP government, saying that instead of spending crores of rupees on the promotion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan', the funds could have been used for building at least 2,000 toilets in Maharashtra.
In an editorial in its mouthpiece 'Saamana', the Uddhav Thackeray-led party said although the government has advertised much about the state and Mumbai becoming open- defecation free, the claim is "far from reality".
The editorial, which referred to the video clip, in which Maharashtra minister and BJP leader Ram Shinde was purportedly seen urinating by the roadside, said, "The minister's act could be termed as wrong, but he alone cannot be blamed for it. Those who indulged in scams and looted funds meant for the cleanliness drive, are the ones who are responsible."
The party said Shinde's medical condition forced him to stop on the way and urinate by the roadside. "But the way this video was widely circulated and some media organisations discussed it, is not a sign of good journalism," it said.
"Several thousand crores have been spent on cleaning the Ganga river without any results. The same is happening with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's over-ambitious 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan'. The prime minister took up a broom. Soon, the BJP ministers, MPs and MLAs followed him and did the same thing, but it was used only for photo-ops," the saffron party said.
Holding that the number of toilets should be in proportion to the population, the Sena said, "In case of Maharashtra, there are 26 municipal corporations and 239 councils. The urban population constitutes 45 per cent of the total population of the state, of which 30 per cent people do not have access to toilets that compels them to defecate in the open."
The condition in villages is still worse. Women also face hardships due to lack of toilets in public places, the Sena said.
"Had the government built more toilets along the national highways and other key locations in Maharashtra, instead of spending crores of rupees on the promotion of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the situation faced by Ram Shinde could have been avoided," Sena said.