JAIPUR: As controversial, rape-accused godman Daati Maharaj continues to remain free, the BJP is betraying signs that it wants to distance itself from him in poll-bound Rajasthan.
Accused of raping a 25-year-old woman at his Chhatarpur ashram on June 10, Daati is known to have close links with BJP leaders. Only recently, BJP general secretary met him during a Sampark for Samarthan outreach; central minister PP Chaudhary has reportedly visited his ashram several times; and Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje is said to have attended a ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’ event with him.
But in election season, the state BJP is not keen to let these links draw public scrutiny. Asked about the delay in arresting Daati Maharaj, Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria recently said, “Nobody is above the law. If anyone has done something wrong, he will not be spared.”
The Congress has swooped on the issue. Party MP Raghu Sharma, asked, “Why is Daati Maharaj not being arrested? BJP leaders may try to show they have nothing to do with him but we know how close their links with the godman have been.”
Over the past weekend, a 12-member team from the Delhi crime branch raided Daati Maharaj’s ashram in Pali district. The team recovered documents linked to the case and was accompanied by the rape survivor, who verified the crime scene.
Despite a lookout notice by the Delhi police, Daati Maharaj has been brazenly giving interviews to TV channels. The failure to arrest him has focused attention on his political links. Like Asaram Bapu and Gurmeet Ram Rahim, other godmen accused of sexual exploitation of women, he has enormous political clout. His pictures with powerful leaders and ministers have drawn much attention on social media.
On a recent trip to Kota, yoga guru Ramdev said, “Like MPs and MLAs, there should be a code of conduct for self-styled babas. If any godman is found guilty of rape or other crimes, he should be hanged at the crossroads.”