Chief Minister Raman Singh has distanced himself from his erstwhile “friend” Asaram Bapu. Talking to reporters here, he said he could not be “held responsible” for Asaram’s actions. “The law is doing its job.”

Asaram would often visit Chhattisgarh and deliver religious sermons, which were attended by the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues. Asaram also amassed huge property at prime locations in Chhattisgarh over the last few years. He was recently arrested on the charge of raping a minor daughter of one of his disciples.

Mr. Singh made it clear that he might have had a cordial relationship with Asaram in the past, but could not be “held responsible” for latter’s actions. “I may have a cordial relationship with you. I do good work and [you] appreciate. But If I do something wrong, should you be held guilty,” Mr. Singh told The Hindu. He reiterated that the law would take its course.

According to media reports, Asaram had attended Mr. Singh’s son’s marriage and was often seen in public with the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues. A video posted in one of the websites floated by Asaram’s disciples shows the Chief Minister touching the self-styled godman’s feet at a religious congregation in Raipur and calling him a “remarkable miracle man…who is always calm and in control, even after a [helicopter] crash.”

“I would like Bapuji to take a trip across the State — from Bilaspur to Bastar as soon as possible, to meet the people of Chhattisgarh,” Mr. Singh is heard saying in the video.

According to a BJP leader, the party had a plan to take along Asaram and other godmen on a Statewide tour to campaign for the party before the election. “The proposal must have been dropped after Bapu’s arrest,” said the BJP leader.

The footage, available on video blogging site shows Asaram sitting on a dais and the Chief Minister touching his feet repeatedly. Both are seen mutually appreciating the “great work” done by the other.

Condemning the Chief Minister’s proximity to Asaram, Congress leader Bhupesh Baghel said it was “appalling” how Mr. Singh openly praised Asaram. “It is surprising that Mr. Singh is not going all out to condemn the godman’s crime, when other BJP leaders are doing so… such was his proximity,” Mr. Baghel said.

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