They came, they added colour and are now fading. Influence of Hindu ascetics as well their enthusiasm for electoral politics is slowly but clearly on the wane.
The Ram Temple movement in Ayodhya in the early ‘90s brought them to the climax of political recognition with as many as nine sadhus making inroads into the citadel of power. But the charm did not last long.
In 1967, four spiritual gurus were elected to Parliament. Though their number touched a record nine in 1991 it again declined to four in 1998 and two each in the last two general elections. Now, only four are contesting in this election.
While two of them are from the BJP, one is from the Biju Janata Dal and another is trying his luck as an independent. Asked about the diminishing interest of sadhus (ascetics) towards elections, BJD’s sadhu-turned-MP Prasanna Kumar Patsani said: “Now sadhus are scared of entering politics. Money is in demand. We are old timers and that’s why we are still in politics to serve the people.”
The BJP has feilded Yogi Aditya Nath from Gorakhpur and Swami Yatendranand Giri from Haridwar for this election. Swami Agnivesh, who had earlier fought elections on the tickets of the Arya Samaji and the Janata Dal, supported the bid of sadhus serving the humanity through politics.