Democracy or Babacracy

Dr. Hamid Dabholkar

Madhya Pradesh government has recently announced that Computer Baba, Bhayujji Maharaj, Narmada Nand,Hari Haranand Pandit and Yogendra Mahant will lead the initiative of Narmada cleaning in capacity of state ministers. Surprisingly two of these newly appointed state ministers had announced a Narmada Ghotala Yatra against the government. The aim of this Yatra was to expose the delay in cleaning of Narmada and failure to keep promise of planting six core samplings on the banks of Narmada. Needless to say, this coopting by the government has successfully defused the Narmada Ghotala Yatra.

Mixing of religion and politics is not a new thing to us but Shivrajshing Chauhan government is scaling this thing to totally different heights! We are rapidly heading to a Babacracy from the democracy. No need to dig deep to find out the credentials of these Babas. Mr. Namdev Das Tyagi proudly calls himself Computer Baba because of his love for computers and modern gadgets. He also claims that his memory is similar to a computer .But nobody in MP government has even bothered to ask him a simple question that , if his memory is like a computer, then why he needs a separate computer with him all the time?. If an individual can be Computer Baba for use of computer then by this logic there can be millions of computer Baba and Ammas in our country! Another self-proclaimed saint is Bhaiyujji Maharaj .He has enjoyed proximity to BJP and Congress both in the past. Last year he has announced retirement from the spiritual field publically and has also filed a FIR of attempt of murder. He is known for his lavish life style which is far from the life style that goes with ascetic individuals.

If we look at this incidence in light of the recent large scale scandals related to Babas and Ammas then this trend looks more worrisome.

Asaram is in the jail for last four years and more than ten witnesses in the case are murdered under suspicious circumstances. The havoc created by the Ram Rahimand Rampal followers is also not very distant past.The cases of sexual exploitation against Virendra Dixit in a high plush Delhi is also very recent. By any stretch of imagination, I do not want to claim that all the Babas and Ammas are fraudulent but the way these cults are organized and their proximity to the politics is making scrutiny of any of their deeds almost impossible and potentially life threatening proposition.

The exploitation of the community in above mentioned cases is very visible but the proximity of Big cults lead by Shri Shri Ravi Shankar , Ramdev Baba ,Jaggi Vasudeo also warrants a special mention. The rise of Patanjali Brand in the current rule can easily considered as a religion augmented model of corny capitalism. The hand in glove relationship of Patanjali with the government is so obvious that it may not warrant separate proof.The danger it creates for the system of democracy is development of almost parallel governing system which is not open for any scrutiny .We all have witnessed its potential for creating threat to government in Ramrahim and Rampal cases and hence it warrants a serious attention.

We have diverged too far from the principle of separation of politics and religion in Indian constitution.The opposition by Pandit Nehru to then President of India Rajendra Prasad for his decision to attend Somanth temple renovation ceremony stating that its can show religious affiliation of a constitutional post looks like an imaginable thing in current era. Like Pandit Nehru, Babasaheb Ambedkar was also a passionate advocate for separation of religion and politics .The principle of secular state is one of the core principles of Indian constitution. As per this principle, an individual has a right to choose his/her religion and faith but the government should always remain neutral to any faith. BJP not sticking to secular principles is not surprising, but the fall of Congress from Jawaharlal Nehru days to Rahul Gandhi doing rounds of Temples as part of election campaign is a serious down fall. This transition is not sudden. If we look back in the past, we can see ample examples of Congress leaderships proximity to Baba and Ammas. Indira Gandhi was a keen follower of Dhirendra Brahmachari, P.V. Narsinha Rao was known for his proximity with Chandra Swami and Sonia Gandhi, Shivraj Patil Sushil Kumar Shinde were all followers of Satya Sai Baba, who used to show a simple trick of taking golden chain out of thin air under disguise of miracle.

If we look at this course of development then the reasons for murder of Dr.Dabholkar, Comrade Pansare, Prof.Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh who opposed fraudulent practices on the name of religion and demanded separation of state from religion does not appear mystery. The delay in investigation of these murders in BJP and Congress both rules also becomes explainable.

In era of populist politics is it difficult to imagine politicians will stop collaborating with Babas and Ammas unless the community at large start expressing their displeasure about the BABA and Amma office of profit .As citizens we need to understand that , though Indian constitution has given us right to practice our faith it has also shouldered us with responsibility to inculcate scientific temperament, spirit of inquiry and humanism. If we keep on exercising our rights and fail to execute our responsibility then fall of democracy to Babacracy will become inevitable.