Ramdev’s Yogic boost to Rathore and to BJP in Sikar, Alwar and Jodhpur

The ‘Yoga Guru’ is believed to have been instrumental in securing renomination of his chosen disciples to contest from Sikar and Alwar. He has also lent his public support to the BJP in Jodhpur

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

Sunny Sebastian

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev is taking an active interest in the Lok Sabha election in Rajasthan. Ramdev, who has a roaring business of food, medicine, ayurveda and cosmetic products through numerous outlets of his “Patanjali” brand in the state, had his footprint in the politics of Rajasthan in 2014 as well. But this time around, it is bigger and more direct.

Ramdev reportedly had a role in securing the re-nomination of Swami Sumedhanand from the BJP for the Sikar Lok Sabha seat. Baba Balaknath from Alwar too, reportedly, owes to Ramdev’s blessing for his ticket. Ramdev came down to Jaipur last week to join Union Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore when the latter went to file his nomination for the Jaipur Rural constituency.

Ramdev provided some comic relief to those who had accompanied Rathore to the Jaipur Collectorate, including Rajya Sabha member and former state minister Kirorilal Meena as he performed yoga on the spot, much to the discomfiture of the Returning Officer. In fact, Ramdev’s “anulom vilom” (a breathing exercise) was preceded by a spirited speech outside the Returning Officer’s room but he was chastised by the officer into taking deep breaths (yoga).

“We would have incurred the wrath of the Returning Officer and perhaps a notice from the Election Commission, hadn’t Baba finally behaved,” a seemingly relieved Kirorilal Meena told newspersons later.

Ramdev’s explanation to the media for his antics was, “We are not talking any politics. I am doing yoga which is good for health. I have come here to shower my blessings on Rathore”. This is the first time Ramdev has attended a nomination filing occasion. Rathore is pitted against Congress’ Krishna Poonia, also a star sportsperson, who is currently an MLA from Sadulpur.

Ramdev was accompanied to Jaipur by both Baba Balaknath and Baba Sumedhanand, the Baba’s chosen candidates of the BJP. All three were spotted at the residence of a follower in Jaipur’s Vaishali Nagar area, not far from the house of Rathore.

While talking to the local media, Baba Ramdev appeared modest in his claims on his growing political clout. “I have a spiritual relationship with both Baba Balaknath and Baba Sumedhanand,” he said. As for Rathore, he said, “He is like my younger brother. We talk to each other once in every two to three days.”

Ramdev also visited Jodhpur, ostensibly to join a ‘satsang’ at Gandhi Maidan in the city and made it publicly known that his ‘blessings’ were with Modi. “Bring anyone better and I will bless him as well,” he said.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav Gehlot is making his maiden electoral foray in Jodhpur. He is pitted against the Union Minister and sitting MP Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. Though his business runs into many thousands of crores, Ramdev, who does not resist flaunting his so-called humble background, asserted, “I am a fakir. I neither need power nor riches.”

While in Rajasthan, Ramdev also extended his support to the BJP’s Pali Lok Sabha candidate and Union Minister PP Choudhary who is contesting against former MP and Congress candidate Badriram Jakhar. There have been sadhu-sants in the electoral politics of Rajasthan in the past too and not all of them have been from the BJP alone.

However, it is the BJP which has been putting up religious leaders, who otherwise claim to be ascetics, as candidates.

Besides the two elected MPs in 2014, the BJP had also Ottaram Dewasi, a minister in its government, who is the religious leader of the Raikas (camel breeders) from Jalore district while the Congress, two decades back, had Madho Singh Dewan from Pali district, a spiritual leader of the Sirvi community, as a minister. Another religious leader who had been associated with the Congress as a minister and legislator in the State was the late Chowdhury Tayyab Hussain, spiritual leader of the Meo Muslims in the Alwar-Bharatpur region.

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