New Delhi, Apr 4 (PTI) Congress leader Raj Babbar today slammed the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh over its decision to accord minister of state (MoS) status to five Hindu religious leaders ahead of Assembly polls due later this year.

Babbar, the UP Congress chief, said the move showed Chouhan’s “weakness”, that he has to rely on religious leaders for victory in Assembly polls.

“This shows weakness of Chouhan (ahead of the polls)… He thinks they can win election, which seems impossible now, relying on the saffron-clad religious leaders,” he told NDTV news channel outside Parliament.

Babbar, however, said the move won’t yield results for the ruling BJP as poll results are decided by a wave of people and “not by that of religious leaders”.

Hitting out at the religious leaders, the Congress leader said they should relinquish their roles as monks and hermits and instead get back to household activities.

The Madhya Pradesh government accorded the MoS status to five Hindu religious leaders.

As per the order of General Administration Department’s Additional Secretary K K Katiya, the MoS status has been accorded to Narmadanand Maharaj, Hariharanand Maharaj, Computer Baba, Bhayyu Maharaj and Pandit Yogendra Mahant.

On March 31, the five religious leaders were appointed to a committee set up for the conservation of the Narmada river.

As members of the committee, they have been given the MoS status, a GAD official said today.

Assembly elections are due in the state later this year, and main opposition Congress has dubbed the decision an attempt by the BJP to exploit the respect the religious leaders enjoy in society.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.