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In a cabinet reshuffle Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has been stripped of his additional post as Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation. His successor is Bharatsin Madhavsinh Solanki, a former railway minister and a Member of Parliament representing Gujarat’s Anand district.

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Minister Jairam Ramesh and Bollywood actress and sanitation ambassador Vidya Balan at the launch of the Nirmal Bharat Yatra sanitation campaign. Photo: UNI

In a cabinet reshuffle Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has been stripped of his additional post as Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation [1]. His successor is Bharatsin Madhavsinh Solanki, a former railway minister and a Member of Parliament representing Gujarat’s Anand district.

News agency PTI reported that sources in Ramesh’s office were disappointed that their Minister was being replaced [2].

"The Minister has been passionate about sanitation-related issues which he brought it in the limelight, they said, adding that Ramesh also managed to get additional funds to carry out the projects".

Ramesh was given the additional charge of the Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry in July 2011 after it was refused by Gurudas Kamat. The Mumbai Congress leader allegedly did want to take up such a low-profile portfolio.

The flamboyant Ramesh often sought the limelight to highlight his aim to rid India of open defecation. In May 2012 he appointed the popular Bollywood actress Vidya Balan as sanitation brand ambassador [3]. In September 2012, Balan joined Ramesh to launch the Nirmal Bharat Yatra sanitation campaign, which is travelling to 5 states between 2 October and 19 November 2012 [4].

It is unclear why Ramesh was stripped of his post, but the political controversy sparked by his recent remark that “the country needs more toilets than temples” may have played a role [5].

Bharatsin Solanki has not yet showed signs of becoming a “sanitation crusader” but he did promise to continue “the good work” of his predecessor Jairam Ramesh [2,6].

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Bharatsin Madhavsinh Solanki

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Source:

[1] Jairam Ramesh loses sanitation after an eventful stint, Indian Express, 28 Oct 2012
[2] PTI, Solanki plans to continue good work of his predecessor, Business Standard, 29 Oct 2012
[3] Bollywood actress becomes India’s sanitation brand ambassador, Sanitation Updates, 5 May 2012
[4] Re-inventing toilet talk in India with cricket and Bollywood, Sanitation Updates, 03 Oct 2012
[5] Sabyasachi Dasgupta, Ramesh’s remark on toilets and temples stirs controversy, NDTV, 07 Oct 2012
[6] Solanki on learning curve on sanitation issues, Daily Pioneer, 30 Oct 2012