Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Thursday was at the receiving end of criticism and also the subject of several jokes after photos of him urinating in public went viral on social media.

The photos were widely circulated after the Rashtriya Janata Dal shared them on Twitter with the caption, “Amid tight security, the Union minister of agriculture gives the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan a boost as he inaugurates an irrigation project in a drought-affected state.”

Singh, however, defended himself, saying there was no public urinal for a long distance along NH28 near Pipara, Bihar, when he wanted to relieve himself, according to Hindustan Times.

State BJP Spokesperson Rajib Ranjan also came to the minister’s defence. “One cannot suppress nature’s call for long. What do you do if you are travelling long distances and there are no public urinals on the way? There is absolutely nothing wrong in what the minister did,” he told Hindustan Times.

The photos are believed to have been taken during Singh’s visit to his constituency Motihari, around 260 km from Pipara, on June 25. But Ranjan claimed that the images were “six months to one year old” as Singh’s as a red beacon, which was banned from May 1, can be seen attached to his vehicle.

Political parties react

Opposition parties took the opportunity to attack the minister.

The Congress questioned the Bharatiya Janata Party’s commitment to its Swachh Bharat initiative.

Secretary-General and Chief Spokesperson for the Janata Dal(United) KC Tyagi said, “The minister is exposing the hollowness of the cleanliness mission launched by the prime minister from the ramparts of Red Fort.”