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Cong, BJP in war of words over Asaram

Editorial Team |

statesman news service
Ahmedabad, 2 September
Even as self-styled godman Asaram Bapu has been sent to judicial custody in Jodhpur in connection with a sexual assault case, the Gujarat Congress and the BJP supporters here have engaged in a slanging match over his alleged connections with various leaders.
 The Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee on Monday released a video clipping showing Asaram with Chief Minister Narendra Modi at a function in Siddhpur when waters from Narmada river were brought to dried up Saraswati river bed so that last rites for departed mothers (matri tarpan) could be performed there. The event was highly publicised following which former Prime Minister HD Deva Gowda had come to Siddhpur to perform the last rites of his departed mother.
 The video clipping of the event, held at Siddhpur in north Gujarat on 8 September 2005, shows Asaram describing Modi as his disciple while the Chief Minister bowed down to seek his blessings.
 Addressing the huge gathering from nearby villages, Asaram said that such miracles like Narmada water filling up the dry Saraswati river bed can be possible only when political and religious powers combine.
 Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Arjun Modhvadia said that Modi has never denied being the controversial godman&’s disciple. The GPCC chief also said that the Gujarat Police have never properly investigated as many as 16 charges pending against Asaram for years.
 Though the state BJP has not responded to the charges of Modi&’s connection with Asaram, the saffron activists here have circulated a picture of Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh squatting on the floor as the self-styled godman is sitting on a folding chair.
 Asaram, originally hailing from Sind in Pakistan, reportedly began his career as a bootlegger here but later on drifted to preaching religion. He had a large fan following in Gujarat but his reputation is on the wane here since two young boy students of his residential school, were found dead by the river side in 2008.