New Delhi, Oct 29 (IANS) After assuming independent charge as minister of state for drinking water and sanitation following his elevation in Sunday's cabinet reshuffle, Bharatsinh Solanki Monday said he would take forward the good work done by his predecessor Jairam Ramesh.
Solanki, Congress MP from Anand in Gujarat, was earlier minister of state for railways. Ramesh, who was holding charge of both rural development and drinking water and sanitation, will now hold the portfolio of rural development only.
Ramesh had passionately espoused the cause of rural sanitation and his being divested of the portfolio has caused surprise in political circles.
Ramesh was given additional charge of drinking water and rural sanitation after Gurudas Kamat did not accept the ministry during the ministerial reshuffle last year. Kamat was then minister of state for home.
Ramesh sought to pitchfork the less-talked-about issue of rural sanitation by repeatedly emphasising that over 60 percent of all open defecation in the world takes place in the country. His remarks that "toilets are more important than temples" and "women demand mobile phones, not toilets" led to criticism but also generated public debate on the issue of sanitation.
Ramesh had also suggested that women should not get married into a house that does no have a toilet. Last month the minister announced the launch of Nirmal Bharat Yatra to spread awareness against open defecation. The yatra commenced Oct 3 from Maharahstra and will cover five states over 51 days.