While the political discourse in other countries like United States normally hovers around debates like trade-offs: guns vs. butter, spending at home vs. spending abroad, lawmakers have recast the debate as a stark divide between heavenly purity or earthly uncleanness.
The BJP’s candidate for prime minister, Narendra Modi, braved a minor controversy on Wednesday when he announced to a crowd in Delhi: “My image does not permit [me] to say so, but I dare to say my real thought is Pehle shauchalaya, phir devalaya (Toilets first, temples later).”
In 2012, when Indian Minister Jairam Ramesh remarked that “the country needs more toilets than temples”, he was stripped of his additional post as Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation.
While for the BJP or the Congress there may be a conflict between temples and toilets, Kolkata shows the way when it comes to peaceful coexistence. Yes - here, temples, mosques and toilets co-habit without becoming an overbearing problem for the other.
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