The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Swami in seat, leaves Ayodhya to Atal
- Chinmayanand in slow start

New Delhi, May 27: When new minister of state for home, Swami Chinmayanand Saraswati, attended his North Block office this morning, he created history of sorts by becoming the first swami to step into the home ministry.

By late afternoon, he was back home. Nobody, including his aides, is sure what he will do in the ministry as work has not yet been allocated.

It is the first stint in government for the 56-year-old swami from Uttar Pradesh, who has dabbled in politics for the past 15-16 years, according to an aide. He is reportedly close to deputy Prime Minister .K. Advani and has been an MP since 1991. He won the last elections from Jaunpur Lok Sabha constituency.

Chinmayanand Saraswati is a founder-member of the Ram Janmabhoomi Mukti Yagna Samiti and a leading light of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Marg Darshak Mandal, the outfit’s apex steering committee. Last year, he was openly critical of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

But during his short interaction with journalists in North Block, the swami showed none of his past irritation with Vajpayee. Questioned about the Ram temple, he said: “The Prime Minister understands it better. I shall be guided by his views.”

This being his first day in office, the swami had little to say but answered questions about the trishul distribution row. “Tridents are embedded in religion. So long as it is within religious limits, it is all right. But once it crosses the limit, we shall do what the Constitution says,” he said.

Advani’s close aides are all praise for the swami, saying he is a competent person who ran the charitable trusts he headed efficiently. He has a masters degree and holds a doctorate, but no one could say in which subject.

But the biographical details given out by the ministry showed little of the efficiency he has been praised for.

“With the setting of his foot on the threshold of his youth, he was inspired by the doctrine of Lord Buddha and Bhagwan Mahabir and as a result he renounced his royalty and gave up dependence on the material world. By God’s grace, he started treading the path of universal good and became a saintly kind of person. By virtue of qualities like Chanakya and Chandragupta, he turned out to be a good orator, administrator, philosopher and parliamentarian.”

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