The Haryana state government has decided to give "status equivalent to Cabinet Minister" to Baba Ramdev, who has been appointed as the state's brand ambassador for the promotion of yoga and ayurveda.
"Ramdev, Brand Ambassador for promotion of yoga and ayurveda in Haryana, will be given status equivalent to Cabinet Minister," Anil Vij, Haryana's Health and Sports Minister, tweeted on Monday.
The state government plans to felicitate Ramdev in a grand ceremony in Panchkula on April 21.
According to NDTV, the 49-year old yoga teacher will now be entitled to a ministerial bungalow and salary. He already has a car with a red beacon, security personnel and an escort vehicle whenever he visits the state.
Ramdev, who supported the BJP's national election campaign in 2014, was named Haryana's brand ambassador in January this year.
This hasn’t gone down well with the opposition. The state assembly witnessed uproarious scenes last month when the opposition Congress party criticized the ruling BJP government for allegedly "going out of way to please Ramdev by making him the brand ambassador".
AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh claimed that the “Haryana government has given respect to a fraud. It reflected on its own character".
Yoga will be made a compulsory subject in Haryana's schools. The state government has said that Ramdev would also supervise the setting up of an ayurvedic hospital and an herbal forest spread over thousands of acres of land.
According to Vij, the emphasis on yoga and ayurveda would lead to an amalgamation of tradition and modernity, and the inclusion of yoga in the school syllabus would turn Haryana into a model state based on Indian values and traditions.
The BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have made yoga a priority since taking office. His government accorded a special status to yoga in its budget this year, categorising its promotion as a charitable activity.
In December last year - less than three months after Modi proposed the idea - the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring June 21 as International Day of Yoga.