Baba Ramdev, the Yogi with crores of followers, especially among the elderly, is in no mood to give up his bid for a rightful place in India’s anti-corruption campaign despite being forcibly thrown out of Delhi once.
Acharya Balkrishna, the main aide to the Baba, said the Baba will “join” Anna in his protest in the future and he cannot be prevented from coming to the Capital again. “The government cannot prevent someone who represents the voice of crores of people from coming to Delhi,” he said.
The Baba’s initial campaign was seen as an attempt by the Yogi — a crusader against ‘black money’ for the last 6 to 7 years with big plans for ‘social reconstruction’ through politics, to appropriate to himself his rightful share in the movement.
The Baba, always keen to be seen on the forefront of the fight against corruption, was not one of the five members on the Lokpal bill drafting Committee and, according to some, felt ‘left out.’
He had been part of the original agitation by Anna Hazare in April — a movement conceived by a coalition of social workers and spiritual leaders like Sri Sri Ravishankar. However, Baba’s latest offer may not be what the Civil Society leaders may be looking for.
Some see Baba, an advocate of ‘Hindu culture,’ as an ally of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh — a right-of-centre cadre-based organization that has been the only organized opposition to the ruling left-of-centre Congress Party since the time of India’s independence.
As such, the Baba’s protest at the Ramlila Maidan was forcible dispersed by the government earlier this month, claiming that the it was the first step in a grand RSS plan to overthrow the current Congress government using mass protests and demonstrations.
The government’s suspicions and feelings of ‘betrayal’ grew after the Baba went back on an assurance that he will call off the demonstration on the first day itself, after all his followers had had a chance to participate in it for at least a day.
However, the Baba refused to do so, claiming that the government has not mentioned strong provisions against black money (illicit funds) in its action plan forwarded to him.
On the other hand, the Anna Hazare campaign has been careful not to include overtly political personalities in its leadership. Former BJP leader and another Hindu activist Uma Bharti was almost heckled out of the stage when she tried to get on it.
The movement has maintained a distance from the opposition party BJP and others so as to deny the government a chance to deal with it in the same as it did with Ramdev.
It was not clear yet how the movement would react to the Baba’s enthusiasm for participation as some fear such a move would play into the hands of the government, which has been trying very hard to link the anti-corruption movement to RSS.
Meanwhile, the Government is likely to come up with a moderately strong bill by end of July and put it up for discussion in the Parliament in an attempt to solve the Lokpal controversy which threatens to hang around its neck like the proverbial albatross.
If the Government does not manage to pass a strong enough bill by end of August, Anna Hazare will go on the second round of his demonstration and dharna.