After being accorded the Minister of State (MoS) status, two religious leaders have cancelled their proposed campaign against the alleged “scam” in the Madhya Pradesh Government’s Narmada conservation programme. However, MoS Computer Baba has said that they have cancelled the campaign because the State Government has fulfilled their demand to form a committee of saints and seers for protection of the Narmada river. “Now why would we take out the yatra?” he said. On accepting the Government facilities meant for an MoS despite being a saint, he said, “If we do not get the post and other Government facilities, how can we work for the protection of the Narmada.As a member of the committee, we have to talk to the district collectors and look after other necessary arrangements for the river’s conservation. A Government status is required for these works,” he pointed out. Yogendra Mahant, who was the convener of the proposed campaign, also said they cancelled the yatra as the state government fulfilled their demand to set up a panel for the river conservation.
The Madhya Pradesh government’s decision to accord Minister of State (MoS) status to five religious leaders created a controversy with the opposition parties slamming the move as “unconstitutional” and reflective of religion-based appeasement by the BJP ahead of assembly polls.
However, the decision was defended by the state’s Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who said his government wanted to bring every section of the society to work towards development and welfare of the people. He received strong support from his party colleague and Union minister Uma Bharti, who said those being given MoS status were “saints and not criminals.”
Ahead of the assembly elections due later this year, the BJP government in MP accorded the MoS status to five Hindu religious leaders — Narmadanand Maharaj, Harangues Maharaj, Computer Baba, Bhayyu Maharaj and Pandit Yogendra Mahant.
Senior Congress leader Raj Babbar, said the move showed Chouhan’s “weakness” that he has to rely on religious leaders for victory in assembly polls.