Stung by criticism from seers over its plan to have party president Amit Shah take a special bath with Dalit saints at Simhastha in Ujjain on May 11, the Bharatiya Janata Party has scaled down the ‘Samrasta snan’ event.
Earlier, Shah was expected to march about 1.5 km from Valmiki Dham to Ramghat along with Dalit saints and then take a “dip of harmony” in the Kshipra River at the ongoing festival.
However, now the bath will be held at the Valmiki Dham itself which is also situated on the banks of Kshipra River.
Ramghat is the grand and main ghat of Kshipra River and attracts a lot of attention while the ghat at Valmiki Dham is more ordinary in comparison.
Several prominent seers including Shankaracharya Swaroopanand and Akhara Parishad president Narendra Giri had strongly opposed the ‘Samrasta snan’ saying that there was no caste among saints and organising such an event would only divide the society.
They had said caste of a saint or pilgrim is not asked during any Kumbh and anyone could take a holy dip. The BJP should not eye political gains, the seers had warned.
The plan to organise a ‘Dalit Bhojan’ where Shah was expected to share a meal with the Dalits was also scrapped.
However, the plan to honour Valmiki Dham’s head saint Umeshnath Ji and other invited saints before having the bath remains.
BJP state spokesperson Roop Pamnani said according to a message received from the state president, all other lecture programmes on social issues have also been cancelled.
“No reason has been communicated by the state office,” Pamnani said adding that the cancelled programmes were to be held at the camp of Deendayal Vichar Manch which publishes party mouth piece ‘Chereivati’.
A senior party leader, on the condition of anonymity, said the party did not want to invite any new controversy during the Simhastha Kumbh so it was decided to dilute the scope of the event.
Dalits are crucial in the BJP’s scheme of things as the party plans to expand its footprint across India.