BeyondHeadlines Staff Reporter
New Delhi: After staging a 24-hour-long sit-in at Rajghat, senior leaders Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) moved to meet President Pratibha Patil this morning about the action taken by the government against yoga guru Baba Ramdev and the 65,000 followers who attended his fast against ‘corruption’ on June 4.
“The image of this government is that of the most corrupt government in Independent India,” said Advani after his session with the president. His party has asked the president to convene a special session of Parliament to discuss the crisis that has arisen from the confrontation between the government on one hand and civil society activists including Baba Ramdev on the other. Advani said that he suggested to the president that a “joint parliamentary committee be set up to explore issues of corruption.”
On late Saturday night, Baba Ramdev was evicted from his camp on the grounds that it was meant to be a yoga training session for 5000 people and not a political demonstration. The Baba tried to escape from the police by disguising himself as a woman but was caught while walking towards the railway station. The police teargassed and lathicharged the crowd that had gathered at his camp.
The action has been decried by activists and opposition parties as a “murder of democracy.” Advani has compared it to the atrocities committed by the British at Jallianwala Bagh.
He was one of the BJP leaders who spent last night at Rajghat which houses Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial. His colleague, Sushma Swaraj, was seen dancing during the BJP demonstration. The cheery atmosphere results from knowing that the government has been cornered through what many describe as grossly inept mismanagement of the Ramdev crisis.
When the Baba announced his fast and flew into Delhi early last week, four senior ministers rushed to the airport to receive him. “Even Barack Obama did not get this sort of reception,” Advani wryly observed. Through last week, extensive negotiations continued with the government trying its best to convince the Baba that his hunger fast was not necessary because it was addressing the To-Do list he had presented to the government. Many items on that list instruct the government on how to tackle black money stashed in foreign accounts by Indians.
On Friday evening, after a five-hour-long meeting at a five-star hotel, the government and the Baba reportedly reached an agreement. The Baba said he would hold a token fast just for a few hours on Saturday in exchange for the plan of action on black money that was handed to him by senior ministers.
But on Saturday evening, when the Baba did not announce that he was ending his hunger strike, the fragile peace ended and the government decided that the Ramdev camp had to be dismantled. The Baba was flown back to Uttarakhand on Sunday morning; he has been banned from re-entering Delhi for the next 15 days.