Mahant had directed the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Geological Survey of India (GSI) to begin excavation after a seer named Shobhan Sarkar convinced the minister that there was 1,000-tonne gold buried at the site. The seer claims he dreamt about the buried treasure.
Mahant is the minister of state for agriculture and food processing.
“A tamasha is going on. I have heard of some people being superstitious, but I am saddened and worried that the government itself has become superstitious,” he said.
“Shobhan Sarkar, the seer, is now saying ‘hang me if I am wrong’… Had there been a government in place, it would have sent him to jail. The government should have stoutly rejected the seer’s baseless claims.”
Yadav also accused culture minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch for “not boldly speaking the truth in the matter”.
Besides, Yadav hit out at BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s “volte-face” on the issue after having initially criticised the excavation. Yadav said superstition was “one of the planks of the BJP.”
Earlier, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar of the JD (U) had also condemned the Centre for initiating the excavation at Unnao based on a seer’s dream.
“This is ridiculous,” Kumar had told reporters, adding that while the ASI had immediately begun the gold hunt at Unnao, it had showed no interest in excavation at ancient sites despite repeated proposals sent by Bihar.