Bowing to pressure by a self-proclaimed Godman, Swami Akhileshwaranand, who is the chairperson of the Madhya Pradesh Cow Protection Board, MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has elevated him to the ‘Cabinet Minister’ rank, as he had expressed ‘displeasure’ over being granted merely a Minister of State (MoS) status earlier.
The controversial and surprising decision was ordered on 11 June, just a day before another spiritual leader, Bhaiyyu Maharaj, allegedly shot himself dead in his home at Indore on 12 June, reportedly over being depressed and fed up.
Swami Akhileshwaranand had been granted MoS status earlier when he was appointed the head of the state Cow Protection Board.
However, on 3 April this year, CM Chouhan granted MoS status to five more self-styled seers including the late Bhaiyyu Maharaj, Namdev Tyagi alias Computer Baba, Yogendra Mahant, Swami Hariharanandji Saraswati and Narmadanandji.
Even as Bhaiyyu Maharaj declined to accept the CM’s ‘gift’, the other four had readily accepted it and have been utilising various facilities and perks ever since.
Nonetheless, Swami Akhileshwaranand had expressed displeasure over being brought at par with these persons. He was in particular unhappy with Computer Baba and Yogendra Mahant, a former Congress Corporator, as both of them had in the past criticised the CM and the state government on several occasions over many issues, including illegal sand mining.
They had even threatened to take out a ‘Narmada Ghotala Yatra’ to expose an alleged corruption scandal pertaining to the planting of saplings along the Narmada river belt during the CM’s ‘Narmada Sewa Yatra’ and activities of sand mafia on the Narmada river.
The CM granted them MoS status just a day before their proposed expose yatra was to begin and both promptly called off the yatra that very day.
Miffed at the CM’s decision, Swami Akhileshwaranand had reportedly written a letter to Chouhan in April, threatening to resign from his post at the Cow Protection Board, where Chouhan had appointed him.
He had reportedly written in the letter that he was surprised to find his name on a committee for Narmada conservation along with the two ‘controversial’ figures because his consent was not taken. He had also objected to being bracketed with controversial figures.
Reacting on his promotion, Swami Akhileshwaranand thanked CM Chouhan. He, however, maintained that the CM’s decision only amounted to correcting the earlier wrong.
Swami Akhileshwaranand insisted that he was already entitled to a Cabinet Minister rank, as the Cow Protection Board chairman, which was not granted to him earlier.