After MoS status to five babas, two make U-turn, back Chauhan on Narmada as Cong fumes
They alleged corruption in the plantation of saplings along the banks of the Narmada during Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s Narmada Seva Yatra and threatened to lead a campaign against the project in May 2018.
But after they were given posts of minister of state (MoS) with attendant perks, Pt Yogendra Mahant and Swami Namdev, the so-called Computer Baba, said on Wednesday that the government is doing a lot to preserve the Narmada and that they would work with the state administration.
They were among five so-called spiritual leaders who were appointed members of a committee set up to preserve the Narmada. The others on the panel (with similar MoS status) are Swami Narmadanand, Swami Hariharanand and Bhayyu Maharaj.
More than 60 million saplings were planted along the banks of the Narmada last July as part of the state government’s efforts to preserve the river.
The opposition Congress party has roundly criticised the Chauhan government’s decision to constitute the committee. The party has charged the government of trying to use the spiritual figures to placate different sections of society ahead of the assembly election later this year.
“The government is mixing religion with politics with an eye on assembly elections. The MoS rank is nothing but the government’s lure to those who speak against it. Congress has always been opposed to mixing religion with politics,” said KK Mishra, the party’s chief spokesperson in the state.
When asked about the change in his stance, Computer Baba said, “I wish to thank chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for reposing faith in us. We are sadhus and don’t need any status but a warrior needs certain resources to fight in a war. Hence, the facilities we get as MoS will help us.”
He said Chouhan had taken a number of steps to check illegal mining, such as banning the use of heavy machines in sand mining
Yogendra Mahant, who was supposed to be the organiser of the campaign in May, said the decreasing water level of the river was a matter of concern. That is why the chief minister had constituted the committee that would deliberate on the issue and suggest ways o revive the Narmada, he said.
State BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said the government’s move to get the spiritual figures associated with environment-related issues was praiseworthy. They would create awareness on the issues of rivers, pollution, environment etc in an effective manner, he said.
Computer Baba alias Swami Namdev is based in Indore. He says he got the alias because of the speed at which he works.
Pt Yogendra Mahant, also Indore-bsed, runs an NGO for physically challenged persons. He is the national president of a Vishwa Brahmin Samaj. He organises bhagwat kathas and camps for introductory meeting for marriages.
Bhaiyyu Maharaj’s original name is Uday Singh Deshmukh . The Indore resident runs an ashram under the banner of an NGO. He came into the limelight in 2011 when he was believed to be a mediator between Anna Hazare who was on a hunger strike in Delhi in support of his demand for an anti-corruption ombudsman, and the then UPA government.