The BJP government in Haryana has decided to give the status of cabinet minister to yoga guru Ramdev, who was earlier made the state’s brand ambassador to promote yoga and ayurveda.
The government’s decision was announced on Monday by education minister Ram Bilas Sharma, who said the state government would also honour Ramdev at a function at Indradhanush Auditorium in Panchkula on April 21.
The Haryana assembly witnessed uproarious scenes last month after Ramdev was named brand ambassador. The BJP government was attacked by the opposition Congress for allegedly going out of its way to please the yoga guru by making him brand ambassador.
Baba Ram Dev Brand Ambassador for promotion of Yoga and Ayurveda in Haryana will be given status equivalent to Cabinet Minister— ANIL VIJ Hr Minister (@anilvijmantri) April 13, 2015
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh criticised the state government’s decision to give the guru the rank of cabinet minister and referred to Ramdev as a “thug”.
“Couldn’t the Haryana government find a bigger thug for cabinet status? Once a thug, always a thug. A thug is a thug is a thug,” said Digvijaya.
Indian National Lok Dal state president Ashok Arora refused to comment on the issue.
Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar said there was no need to make an issue of the decision. “We have given him (Ramdev) the responsibility as an ambassador of yoga,” he said.
Official sources said those granted “status equivalent to cabinet minister” were not entitled to salary and allowances payable to a legislator sworn in as a cabinet minister. They are, however, entitled to protocol, including escort and state guest status at official rest houses.
Education minister Sharma has constituted the Guidance Board and Education Advisory Committee to include yoga and moral education in Haryana’s school curriculum. He said Dinanath Batra, educationist and general secretary of Vidya Bharati, the school network run by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), had been named the panel’s patron, and Bhagavad Gita scholar Swami Gyananand and Gurukul Pataudi Acharya Dharam Dev would be its members.
The Haryana government has already made yoga compulsory in schools. It plans to build ‘yogshalas’ in all towns and villages under Ramdev’s guidance and will send physical education teachers for training in yoga to the Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar. The government also plans to train Anganwari workers to teach yoga to children.
Refresher courses will also be organized for 550 doctors of the state’s Ayush department at Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth. Ramdev is also being roped in to help the government develop an “herbal forest” to grow ayurvedic plants.