The Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh has accorded Minister of State (MoS) status to five Babas (spiritual gurus)- Swami Namdev Tyagi, Bhaiyyuji Maharaj, Narmadanandji, Hariharanandji and Pundit Yogendra Mahant. The Congress and sections of the mainstream media have immediately gone into an overdrive mode. They have started criticising the Chouhan government and the BJP for allegedly scoring brownie points before the upcoming state. The narrative that the anti-BJP tribe is trying to create is that the Chouhan government is trying to benefit from the religious appeal of the gurus and that it is communalising the political atmosphere. The underlying idea in the narrative is that it is not fit to appoint religious leaders as ministers in a secular state.
The opposition and the mainstream media have been deliberately misconstruing the meaning of secularism in India not only in this case but for several decades now. What they don’t understand is that a secular state in India means that the state does not impose unreasonable restrictions on the religious rights of an individual. The state or government as such does not become communal or secular by inclusion or exclusion of Babas or clerics. In fact, no one should have a problem with the inclusion of these seers as long as they don’t interfere with an individual’s rights in their official capacity.
In fact, it is in our ethos to take advice of wise sages, seers and monks since ages. Since time immemorial the Babas used to render valuable advice to those in charge of governance. In fact, in Hindu culture, the Babas do not abandon society but work towards its betterment. Though the mainstream media and the vote-chasing political class has always painted them in a bad light these gurus have always worked for the betterment of the government, within or outside the government, with or without government aid.
There is another angle to the outrage of the mainstream media and the Congress. It seems that they are particularly disturbed by the inclusion of “Hindu leaders”. The Congress should be the last one to criticise the BJP on this issue for the ailing party had in its heydays appointed an Islamic cleric, Dr. Rafiq Zakaria, as a cabinet minister in the state of Maharashtra. In fact, the party has many a times sought the support of Shahi Imam to woo the Muslim voters. The mainstream media never cried foul on these issues and in fact hailed it as the victory of secularism. A perfect example would be the celebrations of the growing political clout of Syed Abdullah Bhukari, the then Shahi Imam. The Shahi Imam exercised considerable influence during the days of the V.P. Singh government. However, the mainstream media did not even express any displeasure about it.
The reason behind media’s apathy towards the Chouhan government and the Babas is simple. The narrative being pushed through for ages is that while Hindu gurus are the cause of all that is wrong with the society, clerics of the minority religions are harbingers of social harmony and peace. Therefore, the involvement of a Hindu seer in politics is dreaded and they are considered untouchables in political life, but the political influence of other clerics is cherished among the so-called protectors of secularism in India. Even in the present case, there has been an attempt by several media outlets to make personal attacks about the veracity of those who have been accorded the Minister of State status.
One can only laugh at those pointing fingers at the Chouhan government today. They have never understood, and will never understand India. They mocked and ridiculed Baba Ramdev, especially when he launched his own line of products. Today, in all probability, they use his products. They labelled Yogi Adityanath as a fringe element. Today, the mainstream media functions largely out of a state controlled by him. The only parameter they have ever used to judge anything in their lives is whether it is saffron or not, and this attitude will keep making them eat crow forever.
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