TURNING DOWN the offer to become a nominated member of Rajya Sabha, Dr Pranav Pandya, head of Hardwar-based All World Gayatri Pariwar (AWGP) that claims to have 12 crore followers, Friday said he would not “fit in” the way the Upper House functions these days.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah were seen as keen to have Pandya, an MD in Medicine, in the Upper House. Based on the government’s recommendation, President Pranab Mukherjee had nominated him on Wednesday.
While he had initially accepted it, on Friday Pandya told The Indian Express, “Maine Modi-ji ko sweekar kiya hai, BJP ko nahin kiya (I have accepted Modi, not BJP). I had declined to become a Rajya Sabha (RS) member when it was offered to me, but I agreed due to PM Modi’s offer.”
But more than 80 per cent of his followers, Pandya said, “disagreed” with the decision. “I believe my stature is bigger than the membership of RS: my followers said if I join RS, my stature will shrink…. I was (thus) compelled to excuse myself,” he said.
Pandya, who edits the magazine Akhand Jyoti that is printed in 12 languages and is said to reach 25 lakh homes, said: “I believe the way Rajya Sabha is conducted these days, I will not be able to fit in. There is chaos there…politics is not my goal.”
Dismissing similarity with Ramdev, Pandya said, “He is an industrialist, I am a yogi…my target in life is not to make money.”
Asked whether his decision to turn down the RS nomination has anything to do with the Congress-supporting followers in AWGP, Pandya said, “Gayatri Pariwar has nothing to do with politics. My followers are equally divided among Congress, BJP and other parties.” Significantly, Pandya’s father-in-law Acharya Shriram Sharma, who founded Sri Ram Ashram for followers of Gayatri mantra, was known to be a Congress supporter. That, too, is likely to have played a role in Pandya’s decision to stay off the RS on a BJP nomination.
Pandya said cleaning the Ganga under Namami Gange project is one of his missions at present. “We have started from Gaumukh (and) Ganga’s 2522-km stream from Gaumukh to Gangasagar is our area of work…. We will make lakhs of toilets along the river. Cleaning the Ganga is our 10-year mission.”