As Third Front Fails to Take Shape, Seers Emerge Dominant Force in Poll-bound MP
The fact that various religious heads always enjoyed sizable backing among the devotees in Madhya Pradesh, politicians line up at their ashrams for their support.
File photo of Computer Baba. (Photo: ANI/Twitter)
Bhopal: Mahant Gurusharan Maharaj, popularly known as Pandokhar Sarkar has announced to float his political party, Sanjhi Virasat Party in Madhya Pradesh ahead of Assembly polls. With this, the saint community seems to be emerging as a prominent force in the state at a time when the potential third front has failed to take shape.
Having sizable sway on devotees in Gwalior-Chambal region, Sarkar announced 50 candidates would contest polls from his party. “I am not new to politics. In the past, I have been a deputy Sarpanch and worked for my village for five years from 2008 to 2013,” said the seer, claiming despite his stature he had preferred service by opting for a humble post.
Sarkar indirectly took a jibe at chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for his pro-reservation remarks, saying the statement forced saints like him to enter politics and offer a fitting reply.
On seers’ entry into politics, Pandokhar Sarkar said since ages saints have been giving rulers the directions and required guidance, but at present seers are not given the due respect.
Another seer, Pandit Devkinandan Thakur too is rumoured to be joining politics with his candidates. Thakur is also siding with the upper caste organisations, fighting quota system. He recently addressed a mega rally on the issue in Gwalior.
The fact that various religious heads always enjoyed sizable backing among the devotees in Madhya Pradesh, politicians line up at their ashrams for their support. However, it was the ruling BJP which brought seers to mainstream politics by appointing five seers as ministers of state, including Computer Baba, Yogendra Mahant, Narmadanand, Hariharanand and late Bhaiyyu Maharaj, who was known for his extended followership among politicians and film stars.
Computer Baba, known for his flickering ideology, recently decided to take on chief minister Shivraj by relinquishing the MoS status and calling him anti-religion. The seer also has started galvanizing saints against the state government while accusing CM Shivraj of allowing illegal mining on Narmada riverbanks.
Swami Akhileshwaranand, who was earlier appointed as chairman of MP Gua Samvardhan Board by the BJP government, recently organized a Sant Samagam in Bhopal in which the seers praised CM Shivraj. The event was seen as a ploy to deflate the anti-Shivraj campaign started by Computer Baba, who also gathered seers in Gwalior on Tuesday.
Another revered seer, Shankaracharya Swaroopananad Saraswati, has considerable hold on locals in Mahakaushal region. The seer has remained vocal about performance of PM Narendra Modi. He is also known for his inclination towards Congress especially with AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh.
Other religious and spiritual heads also have considerate support of the devotees and have cordial relations with the political figures including Ravatpura Sarkar in Gwalior-Chambal region, Acharya Dev Prabhakar Shastri ‘Daddaji’, Swami Uttam having followership in Jhabua region, Bhaiyyaji Sarkar who has followers alongside river Narmada who could influence their followers’ political inclinations.
The dilution of third front has given political space to these seers. BSP, a prominent player after BJP and Congress in MP, Samajwadi Party, Gondwana Gantantra Party, Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) and even smaller parties have announced to go solo in MP assembly polls.
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