Attempts by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to bury the ghost of Narmada Ghotala Yatra by according Minister of State (MoS) status to five Hindu seers seem to be going astray.
Disappointed with CM Chouhan over the alleged six crore sapling scam in conservation of Narmada River and awarding Minister of State (MoS) status to five sadhus, Naga sadhus from 13 akharas staged a protest against him on Sunday in Bhopal.
Led by Swami Vairagyanand Giri, the irate sadhus marched to the CM's House before being stopped by cops at the Yadgar-e-Shabjehani Park. The sadhus claimed that giving an MoS status to the five seers was a “strategic move” to keep them from raising their voices against the sapling scam.
"Why was the MoS status not given to any sadhu in the last 12 years of Chouhan's tenure as state’s CM?" asked a demonstrator.
Protest leader Swami Vairagyanand Giri claimed that Shivraj hadn’t done anything for the Narmada river, except taking a tour of the river.
Giri said, “If he has not done any wrong, then why did he give the MoS status to sadhus who were taking out a yatra (against him)? Why was the status not given to a sadhu in the past 12 years of his tenure as the CM?"
He said that, as a member of the sadhu community, he felt cheated by CM’s claim of having planted six core saplings along the “revered” Narmada River.
"I have personally visited the banks where Shivraj claims to have planted the saplings. I could find nothing there. To make matters worse, the sand mining mafia is operating with impunity along the banks," said Giri, adding that the entire sadhu community couldn’t be wooed just by giving a handful among them the status of MoS.
The protestors also submitted a memorandum, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Governor, demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the incident.
Giri threatened “if no action is taken within 25 days, sadhus would gather in Bhopal and start a door-to-door campaign against CM Chouhan.”
Earlier this month, the state government accorded MoS status to five sadhus - Narmadanand Maharaj, Hariharanand Maharaj, Computer Baba, Bhayyu Maharaj and Pandit Yogendra Mahant.
The state’s decision came in the wake of two of the five ministers, Computer Baba and Mahant, announcing that they would take out a 'Narmada Ghotala Rath Yatra' to expose the alleged scam and the inaction on illegal sand miners operating along the Narmada river.
However, both the sadhus called off the yatra after they received the MoS status, saying the government had partially fulfilled their demand.
Giri urged the five sadhu ministers to either resign from the state cabinet or from the Sant Samaj.
Giri added, "Suddenly the Computer Baba has changed his view after receiving the status, saying that dhongi sadhus are staging the protest. I challenge him to a debate on television."