Ramesh loses sanitation after an eventful stint

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who brought sanitation issue into limelight by launching nationwide campaign to end open defecation -- often attracting controversies with his comments including the one on temple and toilets, was today stripped of the department.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has allocated the Drinking Water and Sanitation portfolio to Bharatsin Solanki with Independent charge.

Ramesh, who was given the charge of the department in July 2011, today expressed hope that his successor will take forward the initiatives that he had rolled out.

"I am sure my good friend Bharatsin Solanki will take forward and expand on the many initiatives launched over the past twelve months in drinking water and sanitation," he told PTI when asked about how he felt about losing the portfolio.

Ramesh was given the additional charge of the Ministry after Mumbai Congress leader Gurudas Kamat refused to accept the low profile portfolio immediately after the Cabinet reshuffle a year ago.

During his stint in the Ministry, Ramesh kicked up several controversies and drew flak from many quarters as he highlighted the sanitation situation in the country.

His statements like "women demand mobile phones, not toilets" and "there are more temples in the country than toilets" were widely discussed in the country where 60 per cent of people still defecate in open.

To highlight the importance of toilet for women, he advised them --"Don't get married into a house where there are no toilets".

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