IYD, shameless attempt by Modi govt to usurp yoga: Congress

IYD, shameless attempt by Modi govt to usurp yoga: Congress

On the eve of International Yoga Day, Congress today accused the Narendra Modi government of making "brazen and shameless attempts at usurping" the ancient Indian heritage of yoga and turning it into a "propaganda and public relation exercise."

The All India Congress Committee (AICC) also released a photograph of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru doing yoga, along with a picture and a maxim by Mahatma Gandhi, saying one should expect from others anything only after practising it oneself.

The Modi dispensation is all geared up to mark the day tomorrow with a grand event on the capital's Rajpath, where thousands of health enthusiasts are expected to converge to perform yoga. The government has been promoting the June 21 event citing health benefits of yoga.

Alleging "sheer hollowness" in the government's claim  of propagating yoga for health benefits, Congress Communication Department Chairman Randip Surjewala also questioned the "cutting of the health budget by a whopping 17 per cent and reducing budgetary allocation of the yoga".

He said that the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) has reduced the budget of yoga from Rs 1,069 crore in 2013-14 to a meagre Rs 318 crore this year.

Alleging that Modi and his government's claims were but a "farce", the Congress leader claimed that UPA's commitment to AYUSH - that includes yoga was far deeper and it went beyond public relations "blitzkriegs".

"We spent Rs 2,994 crore on AYUSH during the 11th plan (2007-12) and allocated Rs 10,044 crore for the 12th plan, an increase of 235 per cent," he claimed.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP have again proven their misconceived usurpation and their vicious ability of turning anything and everything - even the most benign and pious - into an aggressive, divisive and propagandist issue.

"This time around, it is our ancient Indian heritage of yoga which is being made into a propaganda and public relation exercise, which aims at projecting the Prime Minister and his party as the inventors of yoga," he alleged in a statement.

Calling the Prime Minister an "event and headline manager", Surjewala alleged, it was indeed a pity that even as burning issues affect the nation, the Prime Minister is lost in "Lalit Asan".

"The suited, booted PM believes in Raj Yog whereas the country urgently requires a Karm Yogi," he said.

Surjewala at the same time stressed that his party stands in support of the UN initiative of declaring June 21 as the International Yoga Day and reminded that former Prime Ministers Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai and P V Narasimha Rao had been its committed practitioners.

Cautious not to be seen as opposing the ancient Indian health and well-being technique, the party spokesperson said that as much as the benefits of yoga as a daily guide to mental and physical well-being are concerned, the Congress as any other Indian, unequivocally support its voluntary practice.

"However, brazen and shameless attempts at usurping Yoga and in the process making a universally accepted Indian wellness sutra into a coercive and divisive issue deserves thorough condemnation.

"Much before Modi tried to usurp it and project himself as its torch-bearer, yoga had spread across the world owing to its intrinsic goodness and it has crores of people cutting across religion, class and gender practicing it," he said.

In an obvious dig at yoga guru Ramdev, Surjewala said that one of the legends, Yogacharya B K S Iyengar popularised yoga in the 21st century across continents as a way of life "much before one decade-old commercialisation by certain self-styled gurus and benefactors of BJP."

Holding that the ongoing "publicity blitz costing scores of crores" has only served the purpose of making yoga and its practice, unnecessarily controversial, Surjewala said that it has created pointless debating points where there was scope of none.

Surjewala alleged that the intention of the government is clear and it squarely aims at creating a new characteristic "PR and TV event for Prime Minister" Modi.

He said that the event that will once again project the Prime Minister, create unnecessary divisive debates, and in the process also divert the attention of the people from the "misdeeds, scandals and failures" of this government.

Asserting that Congress will not let Modi and BJP create diversion from core agenda of governance, he alleged that the government has "utterly failed".

Surjewala said that Congress will keep hammering pertinent issues that include, "Modi Gate Scandal', resignations of Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje Scindia, opposition to the draconian land ordinance, compensation to farmers and abysmally low MSP for Kharif crop."

The UN General Assembly had in December last year adopted an India-led resolution, supported by over 175 UN member states, declaring June 21 as 'International Day of Yoga', recognising that "Yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being".

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