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Rajkot BJP uses Art of Living for poll propaganda

By Haresh Pandya in Rajkot
April 15, 2009 15:00 IST
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The Art of Living Foundation and its founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar are not known for their support to any political party.

So eyebrows were raised when Swami Maheshgiri, one of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's prominent disciples from Saurashtra, hurriedly organised a mantra naad camp in Rajkot last Saturday. Participants at the camp say it was more like a 'mat (vote) naad' camp for the Bharatiya Janata Party.

On the dais were some of the city's BJP bigwigs, including Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Rupani, Mayor Sandhya Vyas and Kiran Bhalodia, the Rajkot candidate for the parliamentary poll.

During the camp, Bhalodia was asked to stand up and introduced to the large number of AoL followers as the BJP candidate.

Sources say Maheshgiri described BJP leader L K Advani as the 'real Balkrishna' and made the visibly embarrassed followers pledge to vote for the BJP.

BJP sources tried to play down the issue and said Maheshgiri had only appealed to AoL followers to vote in large numbers in the Lok Sabha election. He had not told them to exercise their franchise in favour of any particular party, the BJP sources emphasised.

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Haresh Pandya in Rajkot