Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has elevated state Cow Protection Board chairperson Swami Akhileshwaranand to the cabinet rank, according to reports. He was earlier given Minister of State (MoS) rank. The move comes after Akhileshwaranand allegedly expressed discontent following his appointment to a Narmada conservation panel along with some “controversial” religious figures, according to a report carried out by The Indian Express.
The move also came months after the state government had, on March 31, constituted a special committee to conduct public awareness campaign about plantation, water conservation and sanitation on the banks of river Narmada. On April 3, it had granted five members of this committee- Narmadanand Maharaj, Hariharanand Maharaj, Bhaiyyu Maharaj, Computer Baba and Yogendra Mahant- MoS status.
Akhileshwaranand reportedly expressed his displeasure over his inclusion without his “consent”. In a letter to CM Chouhan in April, he had also offered to resign from the panel. “I was surprised to find my name on the committee because my consent was not taken. I object to being bracketed with controversial figures. I feel humiliated because I have been put at par with those controversial figures,” he said in the letter, as per IE report.
Reports say that the chief minister urged Akhileshwaranand not to step down from the Narmada panel because it could fuel further controversies.
A few days ago Akhileshwaranand was seen sharing the dais with Chouhan at a state-level farmers’ convention in Jabalpur. “The latest order amounts to correcting the earlier wrong,” Akhileshwaranand was quoted as saying IE.