Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched in 2014 aimed to achieve universal sanitation, but his ministers, who are supposed to be a part of the initiative, now seem to be leaving the PM red-faced.
Maharashtra Water Conservation Minister Ram Shinde has courted controversy after a video of him urinating in public went viral. The incident occurred on the Solapur-Barshi road on Saturday when Shinde was on an official tour. The video shows Shinde peeing in the field with his convoy of cars and bodyguards waiting for him.
Ironically, the video went viral on social media only on November 19, which is marked as World Toilet Day.
Defending his actions, Shinde said he was not feeling well and had to relieve himself.
"I have been travelling continuously from the last one month taking review of the Jalyukta Shivar scheme. Continuous travelling in 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," Shinde told the Press Trust of India.
After the video went viral, opposition parties took a dig at the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while social media users attacked him for urinating in public.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said Shinde should be appointed as the "brand ambassador" for the Swachh Bharat campaign.
"Earlier, the urban development department had shown a photo of Bangkok to showcase development. Then it went on to claim how villages, which were not even included in the Jalyukt Shivar scheme, had benefitted from it," Sawant said.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state spokesperson Nawab Malik said no toilet on a highway shows that the Swacch Bharat campaign is a big failure.
"It is now proved that the government has been looting people in the name of Swacch Bharat cess on petrol and diesel," Malik told PTI.
"How can the prime minister expect people to follow discipline when his own ministers are a bunch of undisciplined people? 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."