02 june 2011
Baba Ramdev adamant on fast, says he’s with Anna Hazare
Ramdev determined to fast; PM, Sonia mull ways to dissuade him, while BJP support Ramdev’s fast; Ramlila maidan all set for Baba Ramdev’s protest fast
New Delhi: Yoga guru Baba Ramdev is determined to go ahead with his proposed hunger strike for purging corruption from society, even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi met here to find ways to dissuade the saffron-clad sanyasi, who has thousands of middle class followers for his yogic and healing powers.
Support for Ramdev, 46, came from not only the political class, but also from spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Gandhian Anna Hazare, who had gone on a fast in April to press for a strong anti-graft Lokpal Bill, extended his support to the yoga guru. But he cautioned him against “government tactics”. He also denied rifts between him and Ramdev.
Ramdev, who enjoys a huge following for offering cures for many lifestyle-related diseases, including cancer, through yoga, is to go on a fast from Saturday in New Delhi’s sprawling Ramlila Ground to demand measures to curb corruption and bring back black money stashed abroad.
Although Ramdev’s close associates said that the yoga guru was determined to go on the hunger strike, there was no news of the Baba himself after his morning appearance in Gurgaon, bordering Delhi. Through the day, government tried to persuade him through back-channels.
As the government feared a repeat of the Anna Hazare-like mass movement in the country or one even bigger than that as Ramdev has a bigger fan following, the Congress core committee met at prime minister’s 7 Race Course Road residence to find urgent ways to address the issue.
The meeting was attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and other senior leaders.
The committee decided to dispel all impressions that there were differences between the government and the party over the strategy to deal with Ramdev’s agitation, sources said.
The government is hopeful it will be able to persuade the yoga guru as Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal is scheduled to meet Ramdev Friday.
But, his close associates said despite various government officials meeting Ramdev, he was determined to go on a hunger strike.
“Many government people have approached Baba Ramdev, but how can any one stop the cause the Baba has initiated,” his spokesperson S.K. Tijarawala asked while speaking to IANS.
He also said various sections of the society, irrespective of caste and creed, will join the Baba’s cause. “People from almost every district are coming forward to join the cause the Baba has taken up. The government has so far made false promises, but this time they can’t escape. Baba Ramdev is fighting for the cause of the nation and to make the system corruption free.”
“The prime minister has taken a serious note of Baba Ramdev’s call,” Tijarawala added.