A day after Narendra Modi took him on in his home district of Chikmagalur, Union minister Jairam Ramesh on Monday wrote to the BJP leader accusing him of spreading "blatant lie" about his four-year-old statement made in New Delhi that "India deserves a Nobel Prize for filth".
"I read in the newspapers this morning that at a rally of yours in Chikmaglur on April 13 you accused me of saying India is the dirtiest and laziest country in the world during my foreign visits. "...I know you make outrageous statements.
However, even by your own standards, your accusation against me is bizarre. I have never said what you attribute to me," Ramesh said. "It is clear that even by mistake, you are clearly incapable of speaking the truth," the Union minister said addressing the Gujarat chief minister as "My dear Shri Narendra Modi".
Addressing a rally in Chikmaglur yesterday, Modi had slammed Ramesh alleging that during his foreign visits the Union Minister had called India the "dirtiest and laziest" country in the world.
"Nowadays, there is a minister in Congress who has studied in a foreign country and was born here in Chikmagalur. "He says India is the dirtiest and laziest country in the world. What type of a son is he of Mother India. He goes to a foreign land, eats food in his aunty's house and starts abusing his mother (India)," Modi had said.
Responding to Modi's allegation, Ramesh said, "Just for the record, I have said that India deserves a Nobel Prize for filth. I said this in New Delhi some four years ago and I continue to hold this view."
In his letter, the Congress leader recalled the sentiments shared by him and Modi on the issue of sanitation in the country. "I have also said that India has the largest number (and proportion) of people practicing open defecation. I stand by that statement also.
"I have also said that India's salvation lies in sanitation and not just in spirituality, a view that I continue to hold and which you have also endorsed," Ramesh said.