[dropcap]R[/dropcap]esults of the MP Vidhan Sabha election clearly indicate that the policy of appeasement of Hindus followed by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan did not pay dividend. In fact, he made all-out efforts to convert Madhya Pradesh into a state of Hindu rashtra. The first and foremost step was to lift the ban on government servants participating in RSS activities. Perhaps Madhya Pradesh was the first state to do so.
Then he launched another scheme to finance pilgrimage of senior Hindu citizens to holy places. The state government used to bear the total expenditure incurred on the “Tirth Yatra”. The government used to hire entire trains, which were used to take senior Hindu citizens to various holy places. He also involved the state government in the mass marriages of Hindu grooms and brides. District collectors would supervise the ceremony, hand over substantial sums and other items in the form of dowry to the newly married couple.
By spending huge sums on the Simhastha at Ujjain he tried to please sadhus and sants. In earlier Kumbhas the state government’s role was limited to making arrangements for the pilgrimage and also looking after law and order. But Chouhan gave free lodging and boarding facilities to sadhus and heads of various religious organisations. Not only that, many cultural and academic programmes were organised during the Kumbh.
An international seminar was also held, in which hundreds of experts on various subjects were invited from various parts of the country and also from abroad. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and RSS chief also participated in the seminar.
The government launched a massive publicity campaign for the Kumbh. Advertisements were published in leading magazines like National Geographic and also displayed in several airlines of the country and also major international airlines.
The most interesting fact about some such advertisements was that the language was Hindi. Officers of the state government in order to please the chief minister performed “puja” and took dip in the holy “Shipra” on important auspicious days. The chief minister accompanied by his wife visited Ujjain, the Kumbh venue several times. This was contrary to the practice of chief minister and other ministers avoiding visiting Ujjain during Kumbh because their visits would cause law and order problems.
The chief minister also launched a massive “Narmada Parikrama”. He along with his wife Sadhna Singh spent more than four months on this pilgrimage. The entire administrative machinery was involved in this programme. Not only were government funds spent on this programme but collectors were authorised to raise funds from the public. Large scale arrangements were made for the welcome of the chief minister at various places on the bank of Narmada. Officers not only made arrangements for the pilgrimage but also participated as devout Hindus.
The government also celebrated the birth anniversary of Adi Sankaracharya. An international conference was held to mark the birth anniversary of the Sankaracharya.
The policy of appeasement reached the pinnacle when Chouhan conferred minister’s of state status on five sadhus. But subsequently one known as computer baba surrendered the ministerial status and campaigned against the chief minister.
Perhaps with the objective of appeasing Hindus he declared on the floor of the Vidhan Sabha that under no circumstances his government will implement Sachhar Committee recommendations. “If they are implemented it will result in the creation of another Pakistan,” he said.
Thus all his activities to please and appease Hindus were in vein as they could not help Chouhan retain power.
(The author is a senior journalist)