Sants open front against Shivraj government

Sants open front against Shivraj government

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. PTI file photo

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s attempts to woo Hindu godmen and priests by doling out largesse appear to have boomeranged on him and his party.

Barely a month ahead of the Assembly election, godmen across the state are rallying against the BJP government.

They are going to organise five religious congregations in Indore, Gwalior, Khandwa, Rewa and Jabalpur from October 23 to November 23.

The ostensible purpose of the scheduled gatherings is to discuss emotive issues such as illegal sand mining along the banks of river Narmada, cow protection and status of temples and mutts in Madhya Pradesh.

But their real intention is to embarrass the Shivraj Singh government. At the forefront of the conclave-plan is Namdeo Tyagi alias Computer Baba, who recently spurned minister of state rank and resigned from a committee, which the chief minister had set up for Naramda conservation in April this year.

He says that the chief minister has betrayed the sant (godmen) community. Computer Baba was one of the four seers who were nominated in the committee with minister of state rank.

One of them— Bhaiyyuji Maharaj alias Uday Sinh Deshmukh— instantly rejected the offer.

The high-profile model-turned-godman from Indore committed suicide in his Ashram under mysterious circumstances in June this year.

Another nominee in the committee, too, resigned under pressure from the sant community.

Computer Baba resigned last month, calling the chief minister anti-Hindu. He vowed to expose the corruption in sapling plantation drive of the state government along the Narmada river.

Incidentally, he had held out a similar threat against the chief minister on March 31. The very next day, the chief minister yielded and accorded minister of state status to the godman.

Chouhan was massively trolled on social media and ridiculed in other media for his decision, which was seen as a surrender to the Computer Baba’s blackmail.

The chief minister had started wooing the godmen since Sinhastha-2016 in Ujjain. The government’s excessively extravagant hospitality for the godmen at the religious congregation drew flak from media and the Opposition.

But the chief minister, whose investment is proving to be counterproductive, was unfazed. Earlier this month, Chouhan raised three folds the honorariums of the priests of the temples maintained by the government.

However, most of the beneficiaries of his largesse are seen supporting the fledgling upper-caste political outfit— SAPAKS Samaj Party.