Rahul slams Chouhan govt over MoS status to religious leaders
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday attacked the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government for granting the ‘minister of state (MoS)’ status to five Hindu religious leaders recently. The move has not gone down well with a section of the ruling party either.
Gandhi parodied the ‘Papa kehte hain’ song from Bollywood film Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak to criticise Chouhan as well as the religious leaders. “Baba kahte the bada kaam karunga, Narmada ghotala nakaam karunga; Magar yah to mama hi jaane, ab inki manjil hai kahan (Baba used to say that I will achieve a lot, won’t let the Narmada fraud happen; But only mama knows now, where their destination lies). Madhya Pradesh, Qayamat se Qayamat tak,” he tweeted.
The ‘ghotala’, in this case, refers to the alleged corruption in the planting of saplings along the banks of the Narmada during Chouhan’s Narmada Seva Yatra programme.
The state government had accorded the MoS status to religious leaders Swami Namdev (aka Computer Baba), Pt Yogendra Mahant, Narmadanand Maharaj, Hariharanand Maharaj and Bhayyu Maharaj on Tuesday. The Congress responded by accusing the government of using spiritual figures to placate various sections of the society ahead of the assembly election this year.
The religious leaders were accorded the ministerial status after their appointment to a committee set up to launch an awareness campaign for Narmada conservation on March 31. Soon afterwards, Computer Baba and Mahant began praising the government’s efforts towards preserving the river.
“I only want to say that Computer Baba computer ki tarah kaam karega. Duniya mein Madhya Pradesh ka naam rahega,” Computer Baba said in response to Gandhi’s tweet.
Mahant also played down the Congress president’s jibe. “Instead of passing comments on sadhus and saints, Rahul Gandhi should follow the path shown by them. This will result in his progress,” he said.
Vijesh Lunawat, vice-president of the BJP’s state unit, termed Gandhi’s tweet as an insult to all the sadhus and saints in the country. “Rahul Gandhi cannot understand the meaning of Hinduism. He becomes a Hindu only at the time of elections. Sadhus don’t aspire for any kind of facilities, and the government gave them MoS status with a specific objective. And as far as Qayamat se Qayamat tak is concerned, the people of Madhya Pradesh suffered enough of that during the Congress rule,” he said.
However, the government’s decision has found criticism in the ruling party itself. “This tendency to give government posts to sadhus and sants is wrong. They include even controversial persons in such decisions. The government may get the support (of religious leaders) by according them MoS status, but it will antagonise 50 others,” said former BJP legislator Raghunandan Sharma.
BJP MLA Babulal Gaur maintained that mistakes were committed on both sides – the government by giving away the MoS status, and the religious leaders by accepting it. “If sadhus and saints become subservient to any government, they will lose their identity. One recalls legendary Goswami Tulsidas, who turned down the order of Akbar – the then emperor of Delhi – to become one of his courtiers,” added Gaur, who is also a former home minister.