The decision of the Janata Dal (United) to throw its weight behind yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s campaign against black money has come as a surprise in political circles.
A senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader said that by rallying constituents of the National Democratic Alliance in support of the Ramdev agitation, the party has achieved two objectives.
There has been a sense of unease in the BJP after the divisions within the NDA on the presidential election — the JD(U) and the Shiv Sena broke ranks and voted for UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee.
“We managed to retrieve the situation to some extent in the vice-presidential election by ensuring unity in the NDA. Today, with all the NDA constituents coming out in support of Ramdev’s agitation, we have sent a clear and loud message that the alliance is intact,” the leader said.
Besides the NDA unity, the BJP views the Ramdev campaign as a counter to Team Anna, particularly after its reported decision to take a plunge into politics. The BJP feels that though the yet-to-be-formed political outfit of Mr. Hazare’s supporters may prove to be a damp squib, whatever marginal impact it could have would be at the expense of the party.
“The amorphous groups that stood behind Anna Hazare are angry with the Congress. In recent weeks, Team Anna has broadened its attack on the political parties and brought in the BJP into the net as well. Whatever little support that the Anna-inspired political outfit might get would be from that constituency. Our party is eyeing the same constituency. Why should we allow the constituency to splinter, however small, and hurt ourselves? Ramdev’s, unlike Team Anna’s, campaign is entirely focussed against the Congress. With a committed support base, Ramdev is a useful ally,” the BJP leader said.
Campaign against black money has been the pet theme of senior BJP leader L.K. Advani. Last year, he went on a nation-wide yatra to pressure the government to unearth black money within and outside the country.
Separately, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati asked the government to take steps to bring back black money stashed away abroad and extended her support to all anti-corruption agitations which were above “party politics.”
“We have supported every such organisation which is above party politics and agitating against corruption ... This is a serious matter and all political parties should rise above party politics and make efforts to end corruption,” she told journalists.
On whether her party would support Ramdev’s agitation, she said, “I don’t have to say anything about anybody’s platform ... There should be some middle path through which the money stashed away in foreign banks can be brought back.”
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav maintained that his party would support anybody who fought for the cause. “Our party is against black money. Whoever talks about bringing back black money, we will support [him].”
Mr. Yadav said the issue was raised in Parliament on Monday. He noted that the government had promised to bring back black money stashed away abroad.
However, his brother and party colleague Ram Gopal Yadav took a dig at BJP chief Nitin Gadkari and JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav for sharing dais with Ramdev.
“People who don’t trust their cadres and feel that they cannot win elections without support of others only do such thing. I will not go to any such stage,” he said.