Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to the media inside the parliament premises
PM Narendra ModiREUTERS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Madhya Pradesh on Friday, October 14, to meet Jain monk Acharya Vidyasagar is under contention with opposing thoughts from politicians and spiritual leaders. While some say the 10 minutes that the PM is taking out of his three-hour visit to the state is customary, others believe that it assumes political significance.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Shailendra Sharma believes that the visit to the Jain temple at Habibganj in Bhopal is nothing more than a courtesy call considering Acharya's prominence in the state. Digambar Jain Mahasamiti president Ravindra Jain disagrees and suggests that the visit assumes political significance, according to Hindustan Times.

The visit won't assume much political significance even for the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly election, given the miniscule population of the Jain community of Madhya Pradesh that equals to 0.8 per cent of the population, according to the 2011 census. But there are speculations that the meeting should be seen in context of BJP president Amit Shah's meeting with the monk in Kundalpur in June.

Despite of being in a modern age, Acharya Vidyasagar is known for his hard austerity and long hours in meditation, and also holds influence beyond the Jain community. The 70-year-old has campaigned for promoting Hindi language and encouraged cottage industries. He has also been asking the Modi government to check brain drain and to reduce meat exports.

According to HT, Acharya Vidyasagar has had a similar meeting with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat and the two are merging agendas, hence the reason for meetings with PM Modi and Amit Shah.

Acharya Vidyasagar wants the language spoken in justice delivery mechanisms in any state to be the official language of that particular state. Therefore the language of justice should be Hindi in the Hindi-speaking belt, rather than English. Amid reports that meat export has gone up in the recent years, Acharya Vidyasagar wants the government to reduce such exports. In his view, cottage industries will give a boost to the economic prosperity of the society.

Apart from his visit to meet Acharya Vidyasagar, PM Modi will be inaugurating a war memorial, Shaurya Smarak, at Arera Hills in Bhopal, and also address veterans at Shaurya Samman Sabha.