Astrology is science. Let us be candid about it. Whether or not a certain section agrees, astrological predictions when done by learned scholars have often been right. But even if it is a science, stars cannot correct what is wrong in administration or administrative policy.
So when instead of improving its administrative machinery the Madhya Pradesh government constitutes a team of astrologers to pacify the gods and grahas (planets) ahead of the Simhastha Kumbh Mela, a rational mind has reasons to feel disappointed.
According to Hindustan Times, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is taking an ‘astrological’ step to ensure that the kumbh mela, to be held in Ujjain between April and May next year, is not hit by tragedies such as stampedes.
Avinash Lavania, Simhastha mela officer and commissioner of Ujjain Municipal Corporation, confirmed the constitution of the astrologers’ team but said “it is a consultation forum for peaceful” conduct of the fair.
“The state is not funding the team in any way,” he added.
It is learnt that recent tragedies such as the one in Mecca that left nearly 1500 dead has made the state government jittery.
The astrologers will be warding off the possible evil effects of ‘guru chandal yogam’, a planetary event involving Jupiter, Rahu (a rogue planet), Gulika (a satellite of Saturn) and Ketu (a shadow planet).
An astrologer told HT that this yogam might cause a “major tragedy” during the Simhastha mela.
The fair is celebrated once in every 12 years on the banks of river Kshipra and this year around 30 million faithful are expected to visit Ujjain for a holy dip in the river.
Pandit Anand Shankar Vyas, one of the panel members, said that “calamity might strike in the form of tremors leading to stampede, outburst of poisonous gasses, explosion, or in the form of epidemic.”
According to him “it was impossible to avoid the celestial conjunction but the effects can be subdued”.
The report says that the government will have to spend crores of rupees for the same. The amount will reportedly be routed through businessmen and religious trusts.
It is not that the state government is not doing anything about security, infrastructure and the like’ it is spending Rs.2700 crore to ensure that the crowd management remains peaceful.
But leaning on the shoulders of astrologers clearly sends out a wrong signal. It hints at the government’s lack of faith in its own competency. Critics have found in this another barb to hit the BJP with.
The party has been accused of trying to impose quintessential Hindu tenets on all aspects of daily life instead of propagating scientific thought process.
Last year, HRD minister Smriti Irani was criticized for visiting an astrologer who famously predicted that she will one day be India’s President.
PC Patel, an employee in the state irrigation department, determined the timings for Modi’s three swearing in ceremonies as Gujarat Chief Minister. Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje is known to consult Jaipur-based astrologer Pandit Kedar Sharma.
But BJP leaders are not the only ones who believe in the starry tales; there are others too.
Not a single chief minister in Uttar Pradesh has ever visited Noida in recent years because of a superstitious belief that doing so will topple their chair.
So Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav stayed away throughout their tenures as CM. (Mayawati went there just before her term was coming to an end and lost the next elections.)
Such is the fear of the Noida jinx that current Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav openly declared he would visit the place and break the “andhvishwas” if a proposed university comes up by July 2016.
The fear of the Noida jinx in CMs can be gauged from the fact that even the foundation stone-laying ceremony of this university was done ‘digitally’.
Besides traditional astrology, numerology is common practice among South Indian politicians.
Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa added an extra ‘a’ to her name. Many south Indian politicians frequent astrologers and openly consult them on both private and policy matters.
While astrology may have its own standing, it can often be wrong. In 2004, astrologers predicted that Shibu Soren will never become the chief minister of Jharkhand. He went on holding the post twice.