The revelation of a note from the Baba Ramdev's aide, Acharya Balkrishan, by Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal — a key negotiator — was clearly an error of judgment. The note said that the yoga guru would announce at noon on Saturday that he would sit in meditation only from June 4 to 6 as the government had taken his demands seriously

Earlier, a beleaguered government, under pressure from the party, and an object of ridicule in public for its “weakness,” had decided that if the yoga guru did not make a public announcement on Saturday, then the note would be its weapon to discredit him. But Baba Ramdev's phone call to Mr Sibal, even as the press conference was to commence, obviated the necessity for such a revelation.

Sibal’s warning

In a telephonic conversation even his press conference was to commence, Mr. Sibal told Baba Ramdev, sources said, that he might be forced to reveal the contents of the letter if the latter did not himself publicly announce that his hunger strike would end on June 6. In response, the latter said the government would first have to assure him it would pass an ordinance to tackle black money, as thus far it had only promised him a committee to look at the issue.

To this, Mr Sibal, ruling out an ordinance, told the yoga guru that it was not just a committee — the committee would be mandated to frame a law on black money. Baba Ramdev acquiesced, only saying that he would like a written clarification. Mr Sibal agreed to this.

The moment the conversation ended, at 6.50 pm, the yoga guru announced at Ramlila Grounds that his demand for a law on black money had been accepted, and that once he received a written assurance to that effect, he would end his hunger strike.

Having heard the announcement on television, Mr. Sibal and Union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay re-entered the conference hall, to brief journalists about Baba Ramdev's promise to end his fast once he received a written clarification on a law on black money. But instead of stopping there, Mr Sibal pulled out Baba Ramdev's letter — it is this that has angered the yoga guru. For good measure, Mr. Sibal said that while the government knew how to “reach out,” it also knew how to “rein in.” But its efforts to rein in the yoga guru clearly backfired on Saturday.

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