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India: No Career in Politics Without a Toilet at Home
Mumbai, Nov. 16, 2005 ADNKRONOS International

(AKI) - A person who doesn't have a toilet at home, can't have a political career. This is the rule applied in some local administrations in southern India and may soon be applied to Mumbai and the state of Maharashtra. According sources within the state's administration, of which Mumbai is the capital, it has already been presented to the local government by the minister for water and sanitation, Ajit Pawar and is pending the approval of Sonia Gandhi and other leaders of India's ruling Congress Party.

According to Pawar, a person who does not have a toilet cannot represent citizens in the local administrative bodies which aim to provide services and infrastructure to the people.

A similar philosophy was recently adopted in some local administrations in the southern state of Kerala, where 80 percent of the population have a toilet.

The chief minister of Maharashtra, Vilasrao Deshmukh, was quoted in the Indian daily, the Hindustan Times, as saying that he had the political will to include the toilet clause in the law, but that he has to wait for the formal clearance from the party before pushing it through.

"It must be put before the coordination committee," he said clarifying however of personally having decided "to implement the policy aggressively", to promote the use of toilets, which are used by only 32 percent of the inhabitants of Maharashtra.

In response to the accusations which labeled the toilet policy as discriminating against poorer would-be candidates, Pawar explained that those who don't have a toilet at home because they cannot afford one will be allowed to stand for public office. But, he added, those who opt to run in elections will have to make a commitment to start using toilets instead of continuing to relieve themselves in the open.

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