Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Tuesday reminded followers of the intrinsic relationship between wealth and the lotus in Hindu mythology, an obvious reference to the election symbol of the BJP.
Sri Sri urged his followers to usher in “change” to save the country, which he said was on a “ventilator”.
“Lakshmi kamal pe hi baith ke aati hai (The goddess of wealth rides on the lotus),” Sri Sri said to a gathering of teachers of Art of Living (AOL), devotees, and other people in Vasant Vihar in south Delhi.
Expressing concern over the current state of India’s economy and politics, the guru said, “Desh ventilator pe hai. Isko bachana hai. (The country is on a ventilator. We must save it.)”
An AOL teacher, who had come from west Delhi to attend the gathering, told The Indian Express that Sri Sri had asked devotees to vote for change. “Guruji said that we must now let the old government rest. We need a stable government and an experienced person to lead us,” said the teacher, who declined to give her name.
Sri Sri reportedly gave the example of an uphill ride in a car, when an experienced driver would be preferable to one without any experience. In the same vein, he is learnt to have said that if a person was undergoing surgery, he would want an experienced surgeon rather than an inexperienced one.
Responding to questions on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Sri Sri said, “AAP achchhe hain, magar kachche hain. (AAP are good, but they are inexperienced.)”
AOL volunteers had extended support in large numbers to India Against Corruption’s 2011 movement led jointly by Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. Most of them are, however, disenchanted with AAP now.
“Jhadu lagaane ke liye haath toh uthaana hi padta hai (One needs to use the ‘Hand’ to sweep with the ‘Broom’),” Surbhi Gupta, a 19-year old Delhi University student and AOL volunteer said, referring to AAP being supported by the Congress.
“I was extremely disappointed when AAP decided to quit in 49 days. The public gave them five years to show their work, and they should have performed in this period. This is the first Lok Sabha election in which I will vote, and my vote will go to BJP,” she said.
The BJP candidate from East Delhi, Mahesh Girri, met Sri Sri on Wednesday to seek the guru’s blessings before beginning his election campaign. Girri has been associated with AOL for over a decade, having served as the foundation’s international director, and led its various social initiatives.
AOL volunteers have been going around in their localities since January conducting “Happiness Surveys” that seek people’s responses on governance and the coming elections. The idea is to gauge the mood over the issues that will decide these elections, the relative popularity of parties, and levels of voter satisfaction or dissatisfaction over corruption, inflation, etc.
The volunteers have also been reportedly visiting colleges and educational institutions to encourage the youth to vote.
Manju Marwah, a 29-year-old volunteer, told The Indian Express, “About 80 per cent of the youth we interacted with in colleges do not have voter ID cards. They are not concerned about the state of affairs in the country. But Guruji said we must encourage them to vote, explain to them the importance of exercising this right, and fulfill our duty as citizens of the nation.”