Rally for Rivers, an initiative by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev of the Isha foundation to save rivers of the country by planting trees on Govrernment land and fruit trees on farmer land covering at least 1 km on either side of the rivers. The initiative has the support with of business tycoon Gautam Adani. Rally for rivers is obviously a noble when our rivers are drying up. It will protect people from droughts and floods as plantations will prevent soil erosion. However, the organization connected with this noble cause,Isha foundation, is entangled in controversies related to accusations of illegal construction on forest land in Tamil Nadu. The Madras High Court found Isha foundation to have violated norms. Further, the Adani group too is wrangled in allegations of severe ecological destruction.
The environmental concerns notwithstanding, the movement is also tainted by political connections.
According to Sadh-guru or “Guru of Truth” the movement is inspired by Shri Anil M Dave, of the BJP who was also an environmental minister in Modi Cabinet before his unfortunate death in May 2017. Rally for Rivers got overwhelming support from the Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Yoga guru Baba Ramdev along with BJP from all states. Supporters include Yogi Adityanath, Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Union Minister Harshwardhan. The Rajasthan CM was one step ahead as she not only extended her support but also made it compulsory for students to come and listen him. Later a policy recommendation for the revitalization of rivers was submitted to the PM Narendra Modi for his due consideration.
BJP biggest political strength is their ability to shoot from others’ shoulders.During 2012 we have seen how BJP used Anna Hazare agigation to brand Congress a corrupt party and Baba Ramdev openly supported Modi that only he can bring Black Money, Now both are silent.Even During early 90s when BJP was gaining political strength, riding the wave of Ram Mandir, the then PM Narasimha Rao was asked “Can’t you stop BJP now?” He replied “I Can stop BJP but have no power to stop Lord Rama” BJP always hide themselves on emotive issues like Nationalism or Hindutva. In 1996 BJP won Delhi as it indulges in politics over Lord Rama and won in 1999 after riding on a wave of Patriotism after the Kargil War. AB Vajpayee was the PM for 6 years and yet, couldn’t build even a single brick for Ram Mandir. In 2004 Congress fought solely on local issues and won as BJP could no longer raise the Temple Issue.
During the 2014 elections BJP changed the narrative that Ram Mandir couldn’t be built as it was a Coalition government back in 2004. In 2014 however, it won more than 50% of the seats, which is a first since 1984. And in the UP election the Ram Mandir was again raked up as the BJP needed support of the largest state. It won a 3/4th majority in the UP-assembly election. With majority both at the center as well as the state, the BJP cannot make any excuses. That said, nothing can be done for temple as case is pending in Supreme Court, which the BJP too knew but used the emotive issue to win elections.
With the economy declining for the 6th straight quarter and paucity of jobs owing to the ill thought out decision of demonetization and a rash implementation of the GST. Politics over cow is not working and the BJP is drawing flak from all sections of society as lynching cases by cow vigilantes are not abating. It will also have a negative impact on the BJP as Dalits their new vote share, feel increasingly alienated.
The BJP is hence trying to change the narrative by the Rally for rivers and trying to mobilize people. Even the tagline “Rivers are in danger” is in reminiscent of the “Hindus are in Danger” a slogan they used to whip up emotions and a fear psychosis. The Sadhguru himself is indulging in rhetoric with the slogan, “Everyone who consumes water must #RallyForRivers”. To mobilize the people, the campaign invited people to connect via a missed call to a number.Interestingly Phone number to join #RallyForRiver was also used by BJP to register their Member. The organizers claim that they will connect 10 crore people to support this initiative. The rally of Sadhguru was not only welcomed by BJP’s super powerful but also by BJP’s regional leaders as they are using the opportunity to gain popularity.
What seems to be a neutral project for a noble cause will soon be a policy document for the BJP in 2019. Funds are likely to be collected in the name of rivers and utilized to fund the BJP campaign for electoral purpose. Major projects maybe be launched such as inland waterways, irrigation and interlinking and will perhaps be handed over to cronies like Adani. Adani shares a good rapport with the government and even the company’s penalty for environmental damage has been waived off.
The opposition is still in denial mode about the real motive of the Rally for Rivers. The BJP led by the duo of Shah Modi will leave no stone unturned to shift the narrative from basic necessities and failure of governance to this hoax to make in an emotive electoral issue.