Ahead of this year’s elections, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan led BJP government in Madhya Pradesh gave Minister of State status to five Hindu religious leaders to create awareness among the people on environmental protection along Narmada river.
The status has been accorded to Narmadanand Maharaj, Namdeo Das Tyagi (popularly known as Computer Baba), Hariharanand Maharaj, Bhaiyyu Maharaj and Pt. Yogendra Mahant, a General Administration Department official said.
These five leaders were appointed to a committee set up for the conservation of River Narmada. The Saints will get a monthly allowance of Rs 7500 each and various perks.
Two of these baba’s had earlier announced to take a rally against ‘Narmada plantation scam’ during a meeting in Indore and decided to stage Dharna at the state secretariat.
The opposition party ‘Congress’ has slammed the move.
A Congress spokesperson said, “It’s a gimmick to score political points. This is also an effort by the chief minister 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 Chief Minister.”
Meanwhile, the AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh is involved in Narmada Parikarma and scheduled to complete it on April 9 in Narsinghpur District of MP.
BJP spokesperson Rajnish Agrawal defended the state government decision by saying “the opposition party dislikes anything related to saints”.
“Saints and seers were accorded the minister of state status to ensure public participation in the Narmada conservation work,” he added.