BeyondHeadlines Staff Reporter
New Delhi: After about a week long high political drama, yoga guru Baba Ramdev today finally kicked off his indefinite hunger strike against corruption and black money.
Along with thousands of his followers at the Ramlila Maidan, Ramdev began his ‘crusade’ after a two-hour yoga practice and ‘bhajan’ session, which took place early in the morning. He has been joined by radical Sangh Parivar leader Sadhvi Ritambhara and other religious leaders from Sikh, Jain and Muslim communities.
Before launching the fast, Ramdev told his cheering supporters during the yoga session that the protest was intended to save the country from corruption and ensure that the poor get a good life.
“Nothing is impossible, everything is possible and we are not going to be defeated,” the saffron-robed Baba seated on an elevated platform on the dais, told the gathering, referring to bringing back of black money stashed in tax havens abroad.
Ramdev arrived at the stage at around 0450 hrs to a huge round of applause from his followers who thronged the protest venue despite sweltering heat.
Devotional and patriotic songs reverberated across the Ramilal Grounds as Ramdev’s discourse was laced with humour and demonstration of ‘asanas’.
Ramdev continuously addressed the gathering and was followed by Sadhvi Ridambhara who lavished praise on the Baba saying “if there were more Vallabbhai Patels, then there was no need for a sanyasi to sit on satyagraha.”
It was almost a one-man show by Ramdev who conducted the proceedings, interspersing yoga demonstration, discourse and music with a bit of humour to spice up the proceedings.
Whenever religious leaders came on the dais, Ramdev would introduce, apparently to project that his movement was not sponsored by RSS or any other organisation.
Ramdev was at his humorous best when he told his followers that the hunger strike will help them in two ways.
“Hamara mota bhai aur moti baheno ke liye yeh satyagrah health benefits dega aur desh ke liye wealth mil jayega” (while the hunger strike will help slim obese brothers and sisters, it will also bring wealth to the country)”.
When a follower gave him a Rs 11 lakh cheque, he quipped “this is not black money”.
Union ministers Kapil Sibal and Subodh Kant Sahay had held a marathon meeting yesterday with Ramdev to persuade him to not go ahead with his indefinite fast. However, the talks failed to reach any breakthrough with the yoga guru insisting that all his demands be met with completely.
In a bid to persuade Ramdev from going ahead with his protest, the government had issued a statement late last night assuring him that the maximum penalty for corrupt officials would be “substantially increased”, promising speedy trials for people accused of corruption but stayed silent on the guru’s demand that they should be hanged.