RAIPUR: A minister in Chhattisgarh is copping much criticism from the opposition and rationalists for keeping faith in a soothsayer who claims to cure various ailments using just some sweet pellets delivered under a blanket.
The unique method of treatment has earned the soothsayer the popular name of Kambalwale Baba, and minister home minister Ramsewak Paikra says he got his diabetes cured thus and the nostrums dispensed by the baba are superior to any that modern medicine can prescribe.
"Kambalwale Baba is doing good work by treating the needy for free. His treatment has benefitted many. I went to him seeking a cure for diabetes. I will visit him again. It's not blind faith," the minister asserted.
While the minister is reporting good health, the Congress is after him, demanding that a case be booked against Kambalwale Baba for practising quackery and the minister for promoting superstition. "What message is he giving to society as a minister? Why shouldn't the state health minister lodge an FIR against Paikra and arrest the Baba too," state Congress president Bhupesh Baghel said.
Rationalists weighed in against the home minister Paikra.
"It's an irony that a senior cabinet minister is openly spreading unfounded belief," said Dr Dinesh Mishra, an anti-superstition activist and president of the Andhshraddha Nirmoolan Samiti.
Paikra hails from a part of Chhattisgarh that is rather renowned for incidents of witchcraft and atrocities in the name of magic and sorcery. "Sarguja and Balrampur in north Chhattisgarh report maximum cases of superstitious practices and beliefs," Mishra said.
Kambalwale Baba says he has been dispensing his under-the-blanked formulations for 28 years in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh.
Labour and youth welfare minister Bhaiyalal Rajwade came out in support of Paikra. "He sought assistance from Kambalwale baba. He didn't go to Asaram (Bapu) or Gurmeet Ram Rahim. It's his personal choice. Health and life are all controlled by god," he said.