Cold shouldered by the establishment, Baba Ramdev discarded political neutrality and urged his supporters to “boycott” the Congress and prepare for “jail bharo”. Upping the ante, Ramdev’s statements were in sharp contrast to the almost cajoling tone he had adopted in the past few days, offering to partner with the government in checking corruption.
Ramdev said, “People will show their anger in the Lok Sabha election when the Congress does not get votes.”
Ramdev’s overtures since August 9 when he began his agitation appear to have not cut ice with the Centre and the exasperation was apparent as he stalled the announcement on his strategy for a third time in the past four days. While there was no confirmation, there was speculation that Ramdev planned to march towards Parliament and court arrest.
“When UPA came to power, the prime minister promised that black money would be brought back in 100 days. Many such 100 days have gone by but black money is still stashed in tax havens abroad,” he claimed. The yoga guru was joined by former army chief Gen V K Singh, who said: “The government is taking land from farmers in the name of development. The government is working as a property dealer.”
With the crowds and the fervour not quite matching last year’s show, yoga guru Ramdev’s “agitation” at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan doesn’t hold the peril it earlier did for the government, which has decided to studiously ignore him.
The government’s careful indifference is in contrast with last year when, panic-stricken, it rushed a clutch of ministers headed by its former chief troubleshooter Pranab Mukherjee to IGI airport to roll out a red carpet for the yoga guru and offer him a peace package.
Taken along with Team Anna’s disappointing display, the government is losing its fear of the Team Anna-Ramdev civil society pincer. Its spirits, buoyed by the Hazare group’s error in choosing the 2011 year-end and a large ground in Mumbai to stage its protest, were further boosted by the poor turnout at Jantar Mantar earlier this month.
Ramdev was the only remaining threat of public mobilization and this is also turning out to be a blunt barb. If he subsides, the BJP too will be robbed of a convenient anti-government vehicle to hitch itself onto.