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Monday, November 2, 2009

Chavan hosts Sai Baba, sparks row

Democracy Chavan hosts Sai Baba at CM house, sparks row

The Maharashtra Chief Minister Elect Ashok Chavan, hosted Sri Satya Sai Baba at his official residence. Criticism rained on the issue for using the residence for hosting Sai Baba prior to being official CM. Although many of us Indians do not like this criticism, but we have some thing to rejoice, our democracy is vibrant and thus our freedom.

We are a model to the world that we disagree, agree and still carry on the business of governance in civil fashion.

Mike Ghouse

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THE PIONEER, November 2, 2009

Chavan hosts Satya Sai at CM house, sparks row
TN Raghunatha Mumbai

A head of his swearing into office for a second term, CM-designate Ashok Chavan courted a controversy by playing host to spiritual guru Satya Sai Baba from Puttaparthi, at his official residence here on Sunday.

Chavan — whose Government formation has been delayed owing to differences between the Congress and the NCP over the nature of power-sharing arrangement between them — took time out to seek the blessings of Satya Sai Baba for the third time in less than a month.

Along with his wife Ameeta and teenaged daughters Srijaya and Sujaya, Chavan received the spiritual guru at the gate of Varsha around 12.30 pm. The Chavan couple performed padyapuja of Satya Sai Baba. The spiritual guru, who spent more than an hour with Chavan and other VIP devotees, had lunch at Varsha, sources in the CM’s residence said.

This is perhaps for the first time that any Chief Minister of Maharashtra has played host to a spiritual leader at his official residence.

A large number of senior politicians and industrialists turned out at the CM’s residence to have darshan and seek blessings of Satya Sai Baba. These included former Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, senior NCP leader Praful Patel, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Manikrao Thakre, Mumbai Congress unit president Kripa Shankar Singh, State Legislative Council chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh, industrialist Ashok Hinduja and leading builder Niranjan Hiranandani.

Held at the Chief Minister’s official residence, Satya Sai Baba’s visit was described by the Chavan camp as a “private affair”. Only select guests were present at Varsha on the occasion, while the media had deliberately been kept out.

Despite it having been a “private affair”, Varsha had come under siege from a large number of police personnel hours ahead of and during the visit of Satya Sai Baba.

Expectedly, Chavan’s move to host Satya Sai Baba evoked instant protests from various quarters, with people from different walks of life questioning him for “misusing” the Chief Minister’s residence — and that too before actually assuming the office.

While a regional television channel carried out an all-out campaign against Chavan for “misusing” his official residence and going against the progressive outlook of Maharashtra, renowned rationalist Narendra Dabholkar hit out at the Chief Minister-designate by saying that the latter’s act of doing padyapuja to a godman went against the concept of scientific temper “which is well enshrined in the Constitution”.

“By playing host the Satya Sai Baba, who is known more for his powers of magic than anything else, Chavan has insulted the rich social progressive traditions of Maharashtra. He has also gone against the very concept of scientific temper propagated in the Constitution by seeking the blessings of a godman who is known more for producing white ash and gold rings at the sleight of hand and presenting them to his devotees,” Dhabholkar told The Pioneer.

It was not just the Congress leader who was playing host to Satya Sai Baba. Senior NCP leader and outgoing State Home Minister Jayant Patil also performed a puja to the spiritual leader at his official residence “Royal Stone” later in the evening.

Earlier in the day, NCP’s Mumbai unit president Sachin Ahir performed puja to Satya Sai Baba at Jamboori Maidan at Worli in South-Central Mumbai, where the godman participated in a darshan-cum-bhajan programme.

A staunch follower of Satya Sai Baba, Ashok Chavan met the spiritual leader for the third time since the State Assembly poll. A day after the polling, Chavan Jr had rushed to Puttaparthi in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh to seek the blessings of Satya Sai Baba.

Chavan Jr last met his spiritual guru along with his wife Ameeta at Hadshi, a village near Pune, on Friday. Sunday’s was Chavan’s third meeting with Satya Sai Baba since October 13, 2009.
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