The first Bharatiya Janata Party government in Haryana may have appeared to be politically naïve when it announced to grant the cabinet minister status to the state’s brand ambassador and yoga guru Ramdev, but its decision seems to have been inspired by the previous Congress regime.
Ramdev, who is first nonelected person to be granted the status by the five-monthold Manohar Lal Khattar government, is unlikely to get any pecuniary benefits, but he would surely be made to feel important on his visits to his home state. The millionaire yoga guru, who has been flirting with the saffron party for a while, would be entitled to a pilot vehicle and free stay at state guest houses as per the protocol.
That he will also be entitled to “special treatment” at official functions goes without saying. The chief minister and some of his ministers have been effusive in expressing their gratitude to “shradhey (honourable) Swami Ramdev” for accepting their request to become brand ambassador. The previous Congress government led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda had given the status to at least five non-elected politicians and retired bureaucrats.
Leading the group was Hooda confidant and former Haryana Congress president Phool Chand Mullana, who was made deputy chairman of the 20-point programme implementation committee with the cabinet minister status after he lost his seat in the 2009 assembly elections. The other non-elected netas given the cabinet minister status were Ranjit Singh and Karan Singh Dalal as chairpersons of different boards and commissions.
While Ranjit, younger brother of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) supreme leader Om Prakash Chautala, was made deputy chairman of the state planning board with the cabinet minister status after his election defeat, another loyalist, Karan Singh Dalal, was made chairman of Administrative Reforms Commission.
Hooda had also sent a loud and clear message to the bureaucracy that his favourites would not have to worry after their retirement. While he “rehabilitated” a large number of IAS (Indian Administrative Service) and IPS (Indian Police Service) officers post retirement in different commissions, RN Prasher and PK Chaudhery were made advisers with cabinet minister rank. Before the state assembly elections last year, the Hooda cabinet had also decided to give the facilities reserved for a cabinet minister to all former chief ministers. He now enjoys these facilities.