Holy Goodness! ‘Computer Baba’, 4 More Sadhus Get MoS Status in MP
Congress claimed the move was “an effort by CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan to wash off his sins.”
Ahead of Assembly elections due later this year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday, 4 April, accorded Minister of State (MoS) status to five Hindu religious leaders – a move which was criticised by the opposition and environmentalists alike.
According to the order of General Administration Department’s (GAD’s) Additional Secretary KK Katiya, MoS status has been accorded to Narmadanand Maharaj, Hariharanand Maharaj, Computer Baba, Bhaiyyu Maharaj and Pandit Yogendra Mahant.
On 31 March, these five religious leaders were appointed to a committee set up for the conservation of the Narmada river.
As members of the committee, they have been given MoS status, a GAD official said.
So, Who Are These Godmen?
Bhayyuji Maharaj alias Udaysingh Deshmukh is a model-turned-godman. He is known to have ties with several politicians and businessmen alike. He was a mediator between corruption-crusader Anna Hazare and the government during the Lokpal movement.
According to his website, he is a "spiritual leader, social reformer and motivator, whose sole aim is to bring happiness on the faces of countless poor and downtrodden people, lift them from morass of despair, poverty, social inequality and enable them to live a life of dignity."
When asked about his newly conferred status, he evaded the question and said:
I am the peoples’ servant before any position or designation. A servant cannot be a minister. I am a servant to the country, society and humanity.
The godman is known to organise yatras during Hanuman Jayanti and Ram Navami, The Indian Express reported.
Computer Baba alias Namdeo Das Tyagi claims his brain is as quick as a computer. Although there’s no proof of that yet, he is known to carry around a laptop and other latest gadgets.
He reportedly courted controversy when he arrived at the Kumbh Mela in a chopper.
Computer Baba had announced the launch “Narmada Scam Yatra” between 1-15 April to expose the government’s misspending on the Narmada project, but the plan was dropped without any justification.
Talking to reporters about his MoS status, he said:
We didn’t ask for it but... MP government saw our work and formed a committee and gave Sadhus MoS status so that they work more.
Yogendra Mahant was supposed to participate in the “Narmada Scam Yatra” along with Computer Baba to expose the alleged scam in planting saplings on the banks of the Narmada river and to demand a ban on illegal sand mining, but he, along with Computer Baba, called off the march.
Not much is known about him but, according to The Indian Express, he was one of the 50 core members of the Namani Devi Narmade Swea Yatra.
Babas Cancel Protest Against MP Government
Soon after the state government accorded them MoS status, two of the religious leaders - Computer Baba and Yogendra Mahant cancelled their proposed campaign against the alleged ‘scam’ in the Madhya Pradesh government’s Narmada conservation programme, reported PTI.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Computer Baba thanked the state government for according him MoS status, stating that official status would help in furthering their cause of conserving the river.
I wish to thank Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for reposing his 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 as MoS will help us.Computer Baba
Meanwhile, Yogendra Mahant, who was the convener of the proposed campaign, also said that they cancelled the yatra as the state government fulfilled their demand to set up a panel for the river’s conservation.
Congress Slams Govt’s Move, Calls it ‘Election Gimmick’
Assembly elections are due in the state this year, and the main opposition, Congress, dubbed the decision an attempt by the BJP to exploit the respect these religious leaders enjoy in society.
"It’s a gimmick to score political points. This is also an effort by the Chief Minister (Shivraj Singh Chouhan) to wash off his sins. He ignored conservation of the Narmada. These saints should inspect where the state government has planted six crore saplings (along the river banks) as claimed by the CM," said Congress Spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi.
State BJP Spokesperson Rajnish Agrawal said the opposition party dislikes anything related to saints.
Saints and seers were accorded MoS status to make their work of environment and river conservation easy. The saints were roped in for Narmada conservation work to ensure public participation.Rajnish Agrawal, Spokesperson, BJP
Meanwhile, BJP Leader and former MP Chief Minister Uma Bharti lauded the government for having granted the seers MoS status, while condemning the Congress for opposing it.
Indian culture has always respected saints. The ministry has not been given to cons & thugs but saints. I applaud the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government and condemn the Congress for opposing it.
(With PTI inputs)
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