‘Swamy’ turns slimy: Chinmayanand’s fall from grace

Has the BJP and Yogi Adityanath’s tacit support protected Chinmayanand so far?

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The BJP ‘stalwart’ and former Union Minister Chinmayanand was arrested on charges of stalking, criminal intimidation, wrongful confinement and sexual intercourse by a person in authority (Section 376C) last Friday. The BJP, which otherwise makes a lot of hue a cry when it’s to blame matters on leaders who aren’t even alive, has not uttered a single word on this conduct, officially. The women ministers of the party, occupying responsible positions, who have been seen as the ‘torch bearers’ of ‘women empowerment’ (person in reference Smriti Irani), have not commented at all on the issue, nor have shown any visible support for the clearly vulnerable law student who accused the minister of rape. The Uttar Pradesh (UP) police also delayed arresting the minister and hasn’t, to date, added charges of rape to this case. Yesterday, women’s organisations in Lucknow led a street protest against the charges of ‘extortion’ against the survivor, while the former BJP union minister Chinmanyanand, a rape accused was ‘allowed’ by the court to be in hospital though he was arrested!

After remaining silent on the whole issue for about a month now, suddenly the BJPannouncedon Thursday that the former Union minister is “no longer a member of the party.” BJP spokesperson Harishchandra Srivastava told PTI, “He is not a member of the BJP”.

However, the spokesperson failed to specify the time when such a decision was taken to remove Chinmayanand from the party. A three-time Lok Sabha MP from Jaunpur, he is also the president of the management committee of the Swami Sukhdevanand Post Graduate College (SSPG), where the 23-year-old law student studied. The reasons given by Srivastava for not being more specific about the details of the decision, are ambiguous too. “All our records are now digitised and so we cannot tell since when he has been discontinued as a member of the party,” he said.

Chinmayanand has been in the party since the 70s and was elected to the 13th Lok Sabha from Jaunpur seat in UP. He has been a minister of state for home in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP government. He even won general elections from Badaun in 1991 and from Machhlishahr in 1998.

Reportedly, the Akhara Parishad is also planning to expel Chinmayanand from the body at its meeting in Haridwar on October 10. The Parishad is based on the system of Akharas in the Hindu society. An Akhara literally means a wrestling ring in Hindi, but also stands for a place of debate. There are 14 such organisations based on the form of Hinduism and Hindu philosophy they adhere to. Most Akharas are Vaishnavas (followers of Lord Vishnu) and Shaivism (followers of Lord Shiva).

Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP) president Narendra Giri told PTI, “In most of the cases like this, the seer is expelled from the Akhara Parishad until he is proven innocent.”Giri said that the 72-year-old Swami Chinmayanand belonged to the Prayagraj-based Mahanirvani Akhara.
Notably, before the ‘Swami’s’ deeds came into public eyes, last year, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had ordered the withdrawal of a rape and kidnapping case lodged against Chinmayanand by a disciple and manager of Mumukshu Ashram run by him.

However, the chief judicial magistrate, district court, Shahjahanpur, had stalled the withdrawal proceedings after objections from the victim. The manager of the Mumukshu Ashram had filed an FIR against Chinmayanand on November 30, 2011, alleging that she was held captive, raped and assaulted for several years.

Congress alleges support to the rapist Minister

The Congress on Thursday accused UP BJP government of supporting former Minister Chinmayanand and questioned the silence of women leaders of the party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had alleged that both, the government and the UP police were repeating the ‘negligence’ shown and ‘protection’ given to the accused in the Unnao rape case.

She highlighted that “the consequences of the BJP government and police’s negligence andprotection of the accused in the Unnao rape case are in front of everyone.” She added, “Now, the BJP government and police are repeating the same in the Shahjahanpur case. The victim is in fear. But do not know what the BJP government is waiting for”.

Congress spokesperson Sharmishtha Mukherjee said that ‘inaction’ against Mr Chinmayanand is proof that the BJP is standing behind him. She said, “This is a very serious issue. It has become very clear that this government has a very non-serious approach to tackling increasing crimes against women. The government has a completely blind eye towards crimes against women and they are instead protecting their leaders,” and asked if this case too will be handled like the Unnao rape case.

The rise of Chinmayanand

The three time parliamentarian is currently the president of the managing committee of Swami Sukhdevanand Post Graduate College located in Shahjahanpur. He also ‘looks after’ the management of the Mumukshu trust located in the same region.

Chinmayanand started his political career with the Jayprakash Narayan’s movement. As the movement got the support from prominent leaders, he became an instant favourite with the Jan Sangh, the political arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) which was then preceded by BJP. It was 1980s then. The efforts to build the Ram Temple were gaining momentum. By this time, Chinmayanand had gained importance among the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders. So, he became one of the leading faces of the Ram Mandir temple building propaganda.
By 1985, the ‘movement’ to build the temple was at its peak. By this time, Chinmayanand had established himself as an important Hindutva politician. It is around this time that he came in touch with Yogi Adityanath’s teacher Mahant Avaidyanath. Chinmayanand, along with Avidyanath started the Ram Mandir Mukti Yagya Samiti. It was then that Adityanath and Chinmayanand’s relationship was strengthened.

And hence, when in 1991, Atal Bihari Vapayee became the PM, Chinmayanand got the ticket for UP’s Baduan for the first time. Despite him having no connection with Badaun, merely on the basis of his ‘campaign’ to build the Ram Temple, he won the election and became a parliamentarian. Afterwards, in 1998 he was elected from Machhlishahr and 1999 from Jaunpur. 2003 is considered crucial for Chinmayanand.

This was because, for the first time in the history of India, a ‘sadhu’ (‘saint’) had been elevated to the position of a Home Minister. He would report directly to Advani in 2004.

Adityanath and Chinmayanand’s relationship is neither hidden nor a secret from anyone. In 2017 when the BJP won election in UP, the question was who should become the CM. It was Chinmayanand, who like a good ‘guru brother’ suggested Adityanath’s name.

No wonder then that the Yogi chief minister appears clueless about how to deal with the ‘phenomenon’ that is Chinmayanand!

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