More than 4,200 people recommended ‘Saint Dr Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan’ for a Padma award in 2017, while the self-styled godman and now rape convict proposed his own name for the honour five times.According to the list of recommendations or nominations for the Padma Awards 2017, the Union Home Ministry received 18,768 applications.The highest — 4,208 recommendations — including two from ‘Saintgorge William Sonet’ and ‘India Saintgorge’, both from Hissar in Haryana, were received for conferring any one of the three Padma awards on the controversial Dera Sacha Sauda chief, reveal documents accessed by PTI.All for GurmeetAll recommendations were marked in the name of ‘Saint Dr. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan’, also known as ‘rockstar baba’ and ‘guru of bling’, and almost all had come from Sirsa in Haryana, the headquarters of the Dera Sacha Sauda.Self-recommendationGurmeet Ram Rahim, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail for raping two followers this week, recommended himself five times. While his address was given as Sirsa thrice, on the other two applications, he gave Hissar in Haryana and Ganganagar in Rajasthan, as his address.The overwhelming majority of those who recommended the Dera chief’s name for the highest civilian honour in the country used single names like Abha, Aditya, Akbar, Alfez, Baljinder, Milky, Gajal Komal, Jony, Jesse and Ishwar.Padma awards seek to recognise exceptional achievements in art, literature and education, sports, medicine, social work, science and engineering, civil service, trade and industry.
The Goa Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday said bilateral talks over sharing drinking water from the Mahadayi river with Karnataka will be held only after the Karnataka elections.The party had faced criticism from environmental activists, civil society members and Opposition parties after Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar wrote to Karnataka BJP chief B.S. Yeddyurappa to discuss the release of water from Mahadayi.Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function in North Goa on Sunday, Goa BJP president and Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Tendulkar said the party was fully with Mr. Parrikar’s stand, but added, “The CM has already indicated that this will happen only after the Karnataka elections. Therefore, the question does not arise of using the issue for elections.”Flak from all partiesAfter Mahadayi Bachav Abhiyan (MBA), an organisation working against the diversion of water to Karnataka, the Opposition as well as allies of the government have joined those criticising Mr. Parrikar for his willingness to discuss the issue with Karnataka.On Sunday, All India Congress Committee secretary Girish Chodankar said Mr. Parrikar must first provide regular drinking water to his constituents in Panaji before providing drinking water to others.Anand Shirdokar, president of the Goa Suraksha Manch, attacked Mr. Parrikar for offering to hold talks when the matter is in a tribunal, and Goa has till now said it will only go by the verdict of the tribunal.“It is clear that Mr. Parrikar has been pressurised by his party boss Amit Shah,” said Mr. Shirodkar.Government ally Goa Forward Party has also expressed reservations over the CM’s letter, and alliance partner Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, which had a central committee meeting on Sunday, has strongly opposed the move too. “The government must maintain status quo on the issue till the tribunal verdict is out,” MGP president and former Minister Deepak Dhavlikar told reporters after the meeting.Impact on caseMBA secretary and a member of the National Wildlife Board Rajendra Kerkar told The Hindu that the organisation fears that Mr. Parrikar’s sudden “surrender” could weaken Goa’s strong case in the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal.