Rajasthan cabinet minister Shambhu Singh Khetasar, who has been facing flak for relieving himself in public near a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) campaign poster, has responded by saying that urinating in public is an "age old tradition," according to media reports.
The incident, which has been a source of embarrassment for Khetasar and the BJP, occurred in Ajmer, where the minister was attending an election rally.
Speaking to ANI, Khetasar, who is also chairman of Rajasthan State Seed Corporation, denied that he had urinated on a campaign poster featuring Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. "The photo of me urinating against a wall is not near a campaign poster," he said.
The photograph of Khetasar, which has gone viral on social media, suggests otherwise.
Khetasar's actions and justification fly in the face of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal to every citizen to work towards creating a "Swachh Bharat."
Khetasar made a distinction between defecating and urinating in public. Defecating, the minister believes, can lead to the spread of diseases, but urination in a secluded area was permissible. "The area where I urinated was completely secluded. If a man urinates in such a place, dirt and disease cannot spread," he said.
Khetasar said that he was forced to urinate in public because there was no toilet near the election rally he was attending - a rally that was attended by 2.5 lakh visitors. "There was no urinal nearby for kilometres at a stretch and I was busy working since morning," he said.