The Madhya Pradesh government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan has become controversial for elevating five godmen to the level of minister of state. The act is seen as political, as he prepares for elections. But those decrying it are completely misguided, for elevating godmen to politics and ministerial status is logically implausible.
They can only sink to our level, from the mystical-metaphysical realms that they inhabit. Chouhan has kindly provided a soft landing, but the faithful know that the appointment of five godmen is a vertiginous descent from the astral to the temporal plane.
But it is inconveniencing neither the government nor the godmen who, it appears, are men of the world. One, Computer Baba, had sought an Aam Aadmi Party ticket in 2014. The state government pleads that the babas are getting their perks by dint of membership in a committee for the conservation of the Narmada. It has artfully fortified domain expertise with theatre dominance. But the unkind mutter that the babas were about to agitate on the Narmada question, and co-opting them was politically prudent.
Anyway, it is a myth that men who lead religious communities are divorced from the rough and tumble of the secular world. Stalin is famed for asking how many divisions the Pope had. Otto von Bismarck and Napoleon Bonaparte had asked the same question before him, though in other languages and in other words. To them, it was a rhetorical question, but prior generations would have replied with a number.
A large number, for the papacy, engaged in diplomacy and war, exactly like a nation. In our time and place, we have men in saffron at the helm of a state and seeking world domination by selling toothpaste and flea-seed husk. Really, there is no cause for alarm if godmen achieve ministerial status. Far stranger things are afoot.