Narmada protest yatra scrapped by godmen after Shivraj gives them MoS status

After Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday accorded Minister of State status to 5 Hindu religious leaders, they scrapped a proposed Narmada Ghotala Rath Yatra protest rally, say reports

Photo by Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Ashutosh Sharma

Ahead of a planned 'Narmada Ghotala Rath Yatra', and with state assembly elections due later this year, the Madhya Pradesh government-led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday accorded Minister of State (MoS) status to five Hindu religious leaders. The godmen have thanked the government and scrapped the proposed protest rally.

As per the March 31 order of General Administration Department’s (GAD) Additional Secretary KK Katiya, MoS status has been accorded to Narmadanand Maharaj, Hariharanand Maharaj, Computer Baba, Bhayyu Maharaj and Pandit Yogendra Mahant. These five religious leaders were appointed to a committee set up by the state government for the conservation of the Narmada. As members of the committee, they have been given the MoS status, a GAD official said.

The godmen had reportedly threatened to hold the protest against the BJP government to highlight its failure over conservation and maintenance of Narmada river. Swami Namdev Tyagi, popularly known as Computer Baba, admitted to have had a meeting with the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government after which the agitated godmen, including him, decided to drop the idea of protest, Republic TV reported.

Asked what would the saints do after being elevated to the rank of MoS, Tyagi told Republic TV: “We will do bhajan and work side-by-side. We will keep the state clean, plant trees and keep Narmada river flowing.”

Tyagi had planned “Narmada Ghotala Rath Yatra” from April 1 to April 15 in different districts of the state. The protest rally was aimed at highlighting the worsening condition of the river and an alleged scam involving plantation of saplings along the river banks.

Congress, the main Opposition party in the state, dubbed the decision as an attempt by the BJP to exploit the respect these religious leaders enjoy in society, ahead of assembly elections. “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 the MoS status to make their work of environment and river conservation easy. The saints were roped in for the Narmada conservation work to ensure public participation,” said Agrawal.

With PTI inputs

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