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Giving Baba Ramdev cabinet status: Haryana govt defends decision despite criticism

Chandigarh: "First the BJP made Baba Ramdev the brand ambassador of Haryana, then comes the Cabinet rank for him. By taking such steps, the BJP government in the state has become a brand ambassador of the yoga guru," said Haryana Congress spokesperson Rann Singh Mann.

His comment reflects the opinion of all opposition parties who find the status accorded to Baba Ramdev by the Manohar Lal Khattar government disproportionate to his contribution to the state. Mann said there was no point in giving cabinet status to a businessman.

“One out of every ten men in the Indian Army comes from Haryana. Yet the government finds someone like Ramadev to honour in this fashion. I pity the BJP government’s decision and condemn it at the same time,’’ Mann added.

PTI image

PTI image

The Cabinet rank entitles the yoga guru to a red beacon car, additional security from the state and other such facilities under the protocol. It also makes him a state guest whenever he is in the state. The government plans to honour him on 21 April at Indradhanush Autitorium, Panchkula.

Incidentally, those given cabinet rank by the state government were not entitled to salary and allowances payable to a legislator sworn in as a Cabinet minister. But they are entitled to protocol facilities, including escort and state guest status at official rest houses.

According to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, there is no need to complain about the decision since they “have given him the responsibility as an ambassador of yoga.”

Justifying the Khattar government's decision, Health Minister Anil Vij tweeted, “It is an honour that the government has given to Swami Ramdev, keeping in view his national and international status.”

The Haryana assembly had witnessed uproarious scenes during the Budget Session last month after the government had made Baba Ramdev the state's brand ambassador of yoga. The Congress had then attacked the BJP government for going out of its way to please the guru.

The latest decision has not gone down well with the opposition, particularly the Congress.

"The government is going out its way to honour Baba Ramdev for helping it come to power in Haryana," party spokesman Pawan Jain said.

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh was quoted in a newspaper as saying that the BJP is rewarding the Baba for supporting the party before the elections.

"It is most unfortunate that Baba’s empire is now spreading in the political corridors of power," he said.

Ashok Arora, senior leader of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), told Firstpost that there was no need to give Cabinet status to Baba Ramdev.

"He is a yoga guru. We all respect him for that with folded hands. Why does he need a Cabinet rank? What will he do with that?" Arora said.

In contrast, senior Congress leader and former finance minister of Haryana, Capt Ajay Singh Yadav, said that that it was the government’s prerogative to make someone brand ambassador or give him cabinet rank.

"There have been precedents before. All I would said is that there was no need for a yoga guru of Baba Ramdev’s stature to get this facility,’" he told Firstpost.

The Haryana government had earlier made yoga compulsory in schools. It has also proposed to build 'yogshalas' in all cities and villages of the state under Baba Ramdev’s guidance. The state plans to send physical education teachers for yoga training to the Patanjali Yogpeth in Haridwar. The government has also taken a decision to teach Bhagvad Gita from Class V onwards in all government schools.

Updated Date: Apr 15, 2015 16:12 PM