Anna Hazare, the 71-year-old Gandhian has said the Janlokpal movement will support Baba Ramdev and his agitation as long as his credentials remain as strong as they are now.
His comments have come as many, including some who support Anna Hazare, have characterized the Baba as someone on the political right — alongside the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (National Volunteer Brigade) or RSS. RSS is considered the ‘guiding force’ behind the opposition Bhartiya Janata Party or BJP. As a result, many believe that by aligning too closely with the Yogi, Anna Hazare risks losing his political impartiality.
However, Hazare said he did not think Baba Ramdev is associated with any political party. He reiterated that the top leadership of the movement will remain closed to those with overt political affiliations.
“Those who have been stamped with the identity of a political party or who are office-bearers of a political party will not be part of the [leadership] of the party,” Hazare said.
Hazare and the broader India Against Corruption umbrella organization have been careful to keep BJP and other opposition leaders at a safe distance. The parties, on the other hand, are eager to partake of the movement’s popularity with the middle-class — arguably much higher than that of any mainstream political party.
Hazare was also asked whether he felt that Baba Ramdev was a suitable candidate to lead an agitation against black-money as the Yogi is the head of a large educational, training and religious organization with assets of more than Rs 1,000 crore.
“If it comes to our notice that some of this money is number 2 [unaccounted for], then we will rethink our support to him,” Hazare said, “It is not fair to make unfounded allegations.”
Baba Ramdev’s campaign is seen as the launching pad for a new political party that will fight the 2014 general elections with the agenda of cleaning up the politics of the country and restoring ‘self-respect’ in India. Baba Ramdev expressed his reservations on whether the upcoming Lokpal should have the right to check if the PM was corrupt or not — pointing out that it may distract the Prime Minister. The remark was seized upon by the Government to prove that the civil society leaders are not unified in their demands from the bill.