Bhopal: Hours before the announcement of the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh appointed ‘Computer Baba’ as Namdev Das Tyagi is known as — controversial ‘godman’ and once the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP’s) favourite — as chairman of ‘Ma Narmada, Ma Kshipra and Ma Mandakinini River Trust’ on 9 March.
The newly formed Spiritual Department (Adhyatmik Vibhag), the setting up of which was announced in December 2018, of the state government issued an order that reads,
“State government has appointed Computer Baba, resident of Gommat Giri Ashram, Indore, as chairman of ‘Ma Narmada, Ma Kshipra and Ma Mandaknini Nadi Nyas (River Trust)’ till further orders. The appointment will be effective with immediate effect.”
“The state government order did not specify the political or constitutional status of Computer Baba and whether he will enjoy the status equivalent to a cabinet minister or minister of state. Computer Baba has also clarified that a few more things were yet to be decided, but that would be done after Lok Sabha elections,” it was reported.
The controversial seer was accorded the Minister of State (MoS) status by the previous Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government in April 2018.
Before that, Computer Baba had launched a fierce campaign against the BJP by the name of ‘Narmada Ghotala Yatra’ (April 1 to May 15) to highlight the irregularities of Shivraj’s Narmada Sewa Yatra.
But he changed his views after the state government accorded him MoS status in the 5-member committee on Narmada river conservation on 31 March, 2018.
But he resigned in October 2018 and campaigned against the BJP in the assembly elections, accusing it of being irreligious.
After the appointment, Baba said, “I am thankful to Congress president Rahul Gandhi and CM Kamal Nath for assigning me this work. I have decided to begin the task as soon as possible though, there are some complications due to the Lok Sabha elections. I would focus on the conservation of three rivers and check illegal mining and pollution.”
During the last assembly elections, the Baba had turned anti-BJP after his demand for a ticket to contest was turned down by the party.
When asked about the reason for quitting the BJP, he had told the media, “I quit because the previous government did nothing to stop illegal mining. The new government has entrusted me to stop the illegal practice so I have accepted it.”
He insisted he was not a politician, just a seer devoted to the cause of the Narmada. However, he had contested in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket, though had lost.
A section of babas had turned against the then BJP government accusing it of neglecting their demands. Prominent among them was a demand to legalise encroachments by temples on government land.