Who let the ghosts out: Superstitions, rumours leave politicians spooked

Lalu Prasad Yadav's son and former Bihar minister Tej Pratap Yadav recently vacated his government-provided bungalow in Patna because he said ghosts had been let loose there.

Published: 04th March 2018 07:19 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th March 2018 08:39 PM   |  A+A-


NEW DELHI: An opera of phantoms is playing out across the country. And in the audience are sections of spooked out lawmakers.

A spectre seems to be haunting legislators in the states -- from Bihar and Rajasthan to Madhya Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh.

And they are looking at ways of dealing with spooks with the help of purification rituals or by simply steering clear of what they believe are ghost-filled houses.

While RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav's son and former Bihar minister Tej Pratap Yadav recently vacated his government-provided bungalow in Patna because he said ghosts had been let loose there, BJP MLAs in the Rajasthan Assembly feared the building was haunted.

"I decided to vacate the bungalow because (chief minister) Nitish (Kumar) and deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi had released ghosts in it. The ghosts were haunting me," the 28-year-old Rashtriya Janata Dal leader, whose father is in jail, told the media.

The politician had earlier made some alterations to the bungalow to bring in elements of Vaastu Shastra -- traditional architectural beliefs - and also used the rear exit instead of the main entrance to ward off evil spirits.

But Yadav found the changes did little to deter the stubborn ghosts.The MLA finally moved out.MLAs in the Rajasthan Assembly fear the worst, too.

BJP legislator Habibur Rahman believes that a part of the land on which the Assembly building stands was previously a cremation ground and thus unholy.

Panic spread after two MLAs died within six months.

A "purification ritual" is now on the cards, reports said.Rationalists said they were worried about the trend.

Mukta Dabholkar, daughter of slain rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, said it was disheartening that lawmakers had no "scientific temper" or "spirit of inquiry".

"If something is not going right it has to have some explanation.You cannot explain it in terms of black magic or a bad curse," she said.

Some legislators made such statements because they lacked a scientific temperament, she said.

"Or perhaps they want to distract people's attention from real issues," said Dabholkar, who is also a member of her father's organisation, the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti.

Senior CPI leader Atul Kumar Anjan alleged that the BJP government was giving patronage to superstition. Yadav, however, belongs to a party opposed to the BJP.

Anjan recalled that several years ago, a minister at the Centre had called tantriks and witch-doctors agents of social welfare who practised forms of knowledge.

"He said this knowledge should be made a part of university curricula," Anjan said.

Efforts have often been made to eradicate what is called the evil eye.

In December, some members of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, while questioning the untimely demise of nine MLAs in four years, demanded a puja.

They claimed the building was not "Vaastu compliant".

The Arunachal Pradesh government recently decided to convert the official bungalow of the chief minister into a state guest house.

The bungalow in the state capital was thought to be haunted after former chief minister Kalikho Pul committed suicide on August 9 last year.

"It is sad that at this time and age when we have the Mangalyaan and are talking about building a colony on the moon, some people are reinforcing and sometimes re-inventing age-old myths and propagating them through modern means," said CPI(M) leader Mohammed Salim.


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