Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Anna, Baba and Congress

Veerappa Moily must be a happy man. When four ministers went to meet Baba Ramdev at airport he was not one of them. It was interpreted as he was losing favour. By 5/6/2011 the tide had turned, the pendulum had swung, Kapil Sibal was under attack.

Anna Hazare led a fast for Lokpal Bill and was successful. Baba Ramdev was unhappy about the composition of the drafting committee for Lokpal Bill which had Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal among others. He said, father is chairman, son is member and the secret of Arvind Kejriwal’s seat. Shanti Bhushan replied drafting committee needs legal experts not yoga guru. Anna Hazare spoke to Baba Ramdev and Baba Ramdev muted his criticism.

On 4/5/2011 Baba Ramdev announced his fast beginning from 4/6/2011 against black money and other issues. He wanted the fast on a large scale with one crore people taking part in it all over India. It was a case of my fast is bigger than your fast.

Anna Hazare group wanted PM and CJI under Lokpal. Baba Ramdev said if PM and CJI can be corrupt, so can be Lokpal, and there is a need for debate on including PM and CJI under Lokpal. Congress was happy to hear that.

The government officials met Baba Ramdev and explained him various measures. On 1/6/2011 four ministers went to meet Baba Ramdev. That was criticised and Congress spokespersons refused to defend the government. It is said Pranab Mukherjee did not want to go but went at Manmohan Singh’s request. Next day Pranab Mukherjee was not in the group. After that Pawan Kumar Bansal was out and Kapil Sibal and Subodh Kant Sahay continued negotiations.

On 4/6/2011 Baba Ramdev began his fast. At 6 p.m. he announced that the government had agreed to bring a law against black money and he was waiting for the letter. His original demand was an ordinance against black money. Then Kapil Sibal made public the letter written by Baba Ramdev’s aide Balakrishna that the fast would be called off in two days. Journalists questioned Baba Ramdev about the secret deal and he had no proper answer and accused Kapil Sibal of betrayal. Kapil Sibal in turn accused Baba Ramdev of betrayal. A letter was given to Baba Ramdev at 11.30 p.m.

On 5/6/2011 during the early hours the police entered Ramlila Ground and forcibly put an end to the agitation. It is said the permission was for yoga camp for 5,000 people and there were 30,000 people on an indefinite fast. Baba Ramdev was caught and sent to Dehradun. Some compared the police action to emergency or Jallianwalla Bagh. Someone said history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce. Someone called it the Theatre of the Absurd. Devender Sharma said that at the airport the ministers praised Baba Ramdev saying you have said PM and CJI should be out of Lokpal and Baba Ramdev replied that he has not said that and had said there should be a debate about PM and CJI being under Lokpal, Kapil Sibal was aggressive at Claridges, he did not want Anna Hazare to be on stage with Baba Ramdev, he would not have allowed the fast to take place and the letter given by Baba Ramdev was a strategy. Many people will call it cheating not only the government but many followers who had come for an indefinite fast against black money.

Congress said RSS and BJP are behind Baba Ramdev and Baba Ramdev is nobody. BJP sat in protest at Rajghat. Sushma Swaraj’s dance to a song there created another controversy. Digvijay Singh called BJP a party of dancing people. Sushma Swaraj said dancing is her birthright, she danced to a patriotic song and internet is full of clips of Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Sheila Dikshit dancing. Omar Abdullah tweeted “My father is a better dancer than Sushma Swaraj.”

Baba Ramdev continued his fast. In the film The Guide, Dev Anand plays a character who is trapped by circumstances to undertake a fast and fails to escape from the place. He dies. It seems Baba Ramdev wanted to give up fast on 7/6/2011 but continued after his followers told him not to give up fast. Haridwar is not Delhi. Mayawati did not grant him permission to enter UP. That ruled out fasting in NOIDA.

Anna Hazare group condemned the police action and boycotted the drafting committee meeting on 6/6/2011. The government said they will draft the bill with or without Anna Hazare group. On 8/6/2011 Anna Hazare group held a fast at Rajghat in protest against police action. Anna Hazare reiterated 15/8/2011 as deadline for passing the Lokpal Bill failing which he will go on an indefinite fast from 16/8/2011. Same day Baba Ramdev announced combat training to 11,000 men and women in the age group of 35-40 so that next time when police attack them they will hit back. Mohammed Ali Jinnah was once ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity. He did not get power through constitutional means. He became a leader of Muslims, resorted to violence and was successful.

Congress distanced itself from the crackdown. When things go wrong the party is not responsible, it is government’s action. You can not fool all the people all the time. Congress is the main constituent of UPA. The ministers who went to meet Baba Ramdev were Congressmen. Home Minister P. Chidambaram is a Congressman. If the argument is that Congress president did not know about the police action that was to take place, that is difficult to believe and a channel had reported that Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi knew about it.

When NDA was in power Manmohan Singh and Pranab Mukherjee want PM under Lokpal and Atal Behari Vajpayee was ready for it. The Lokpal Bills of 1979, 1989 and 1998 had covered PM. The constitution does not exempt PM from criminal prosecution.

Digvijay Singh consistently attacked Baba Ramdev. Balakrishna referred to Digvijay Singh as an unemployed person rejected by people not deserving any reply. Digvijay Singh says he is a street smart politician and street fighter in reference to beating up Sunil Kumar, a person who took off his slipper at Congress office.

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