Gujarat ministers stoke controversy for felicitating exorcists

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Ahmedabad, Jun 12: Two senior ministers in Gujarat have landed in a soup after a purported video of them attending a function to felicitate self-proclaimed exorcists in Botad district went viral.

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Rationalists accused the ministers of promoting superstition by attending such an event, while the ministers denied having done anything to that effect. According to the invitation card, the event was organised by the local BJP unit at a temple in Gadhada town of Botad district on Saturday evening.

In the video, state Education and Revenue minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama along with local MLA as well as state Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Atmaram Parmar can be seen on the dais watching a couple of exorcists beating themselves with metal chains on live music near the stage.

Later, around 100 exorcists can be seen shaking hands with the ministers on the stage as part of their felicitation. Taking a strong exception to the ministers' presence at the event, prominent rationalist Jayant Pandya said he would write to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani to stop ministers from attending events that promote superstition.

"This is for the first time I have seen ministers attending an event where exorcists were felicitated. This is very shameful. I will write to the CM to stop government functionaries from attending such programmes which spread superstition," Pandya, who heads the NGO 'Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha', said.

However, unfazed by the controversy, Chudasama had yesterday said those present at the event were "worshippers of divine power." As the controversy intensified today, the minister once again defended their presence at that event.

"We meet people from all walks of life. Being in public life, we meet people from various sections of the society to put across our views. There is hardly any community with whom we have not established dialogue," Chudasama told reporters in Gandhinagar today.

"Those people (exorcists) are the worshippers of divine power. Just like us, they are also part of our society. So, there is nothing wrong if two different sections of the society meet. Our intention was not to spread or promote superstition," the minister added.

PTI

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