‘Babas’ want more. Unsatisfied with MoS, Computer Baba now wants MLA tickets from BJP M.P. Govt.
More power for self proclaimed babas. What could possibly go wrong?
Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh: One of the five godmen who was recently accorded the status of minister in the Madhya Pradesh government has now demanded tickets for even more seers to contest assembly polls scheduled for later this year. Computer Baba aka Swami Namdev Tyagi made the demand while talking to the media and said that he would approach chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in this matter.
Chief Minister Shivraj who is already under fire for granting ministers’ status to five saints is now facing another challenge from the same Baba to whom he granted the favour. Talking to media persons in Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh, Computer Baba said that even saints want to do several things. “How long would the saints pursue people in power for getting things done? he asked. “The seer community is fed up of such attitudes. Therefore, if someone from our community enters government, he would be able to put his views in the state assembly,” explained Computer Baba.
Several saints and seers from Seoni, Dindori, Balaghat besides Mandla were invited to the programme. The gathering demanded tickets in the upcoming assembly polls, said Computer Baba, who assured them that he would convey their feelings to Chouhan. The saints specifically demanded a ticket for Khadeshwari Baba from Keolari in Seoni district. Other saints who have done substantial social work too should be considered for tickets to contest polls, he added.
Threats that work
Computer Baba and Pandit Yogendra Mahant had announced their plan to launch a Narmada Ghotala Rath Yatra across the state to expose Chouhan’s involvement in an alleged multi-crore-rupee river Narmada Plantation scam. Five saints were given the status of ministers on March 31, just a day before the yatra to expose Chouhan was to start.
The Narmada Ghotala Rath Yatra was scheduled to run from April 1 to May 15 and would cover 45 districts of the state in 45 days, most of which lie along the Narmada’s banks. The aim of the yatra, as stated in the publicity posters and banners, opposed illegal mining on the banks of river Narmada, sought to conserve the environment and expose the scams being perpetrated in the name of river Narmada.
The Chouhan government had claimed it had planted 6.7 crore saplings along the banks of the Narmada during the chief minister’s Narmada Yatra held last year. Chouhan had also claimed to get this ‘feat’ registered in the Guinness Book of World Records, which, for the record, hasn’t been done to date. Chouhan had claimed that this was the biggest programme ever in the world to restore a river.
Panicked by the announcement of the saint’s Ghotala Yatra, the Chouhan government promptly announced the formation of a five-member committee to create awareness about tree plantation, water conservation and cleanliness along Narmada. Members of the committee included Computer Baba, Uday Singh Deshmukh aka Bhaiyyuji Maharaj, Narmadanand, Hariharanand and Pandit Yogendra Mahant. All were given the status of ministers of state in the Chouhan government.
Interestingly, no sooner was the formation of the committee announced than the yatra was called off. “There is no need for the yatra now as CM has taken cognizance of our demands,” Computer Baba said the next day and announced the cancellation of the Ghotala Yatra.
‘Real saints wouldn’t grab power’
Chouhan had defended his decision of according ministerial status to saints saying that the government has attempted to bring different sections of the society to work for the people. “We want every section of the society to work towards the welfare and development of the state and that is why we have attempted to bring together each section of the society,” Chouhan said to media.
Political analyst Manoj Verma termed the move by Computer Baba as a smart one. “He is mature enough as a politician to demand tickets for others because had he demanded a ticket for himself, he could have spoilt his image,” said Verma.
Computer Baba, who is said to be from Indore, nurses political ambitions. He tried to get a ticket to contest from the Aam Admi Party in 2014 but failed. He was an outspoken critic of Chouhan’s Bharatiya Janata Party and its parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh then and had made public statements criticising them. He had blamed them of exploiting sadhus and holy men.
Though Computer Baba had demanded an assembly ticket for Khadeshwari Baba from Keolari constituency, he is himself vying for a ticket from Mandla assembly constituency, said sources.
In the latest development, two of the saints have refused ministerial status. Bhaiyyu Maharaj announced in a programme in Bhopal on Wednesday that he would do all the work required for cleansing the Narmada but refused to accept the status of minister. Similarly, Swami Narmadanand said that he was not consulted before the decision. “I came to know about the decision through media and I haven’t received any formal information from the government,” said Narmadanand. “I won’t accept the status of minister accorded to me,” he added.
Reacting on these developments, the opposition Congress Party said that it was nothing more than a gimmick to score political points. “These saints should inspect sites along the river Narmada where CM has claimed he planted six crore saplings. This is an effort by Chouhan to wash off his sins. Real saints would never like to grab power,” said party spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi.
(Shahroz Afridi is a Bhopal – based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.)