Baba Ramdev on Tuesday broke his five-day fast but, before leaving the city, launched a fresh attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Congress and called upon his supporters to ensure the party’s defeat in the 2014 general elections.
With the consolation of support he received from the NDA and other parties in his campaign against black money and corruption, the yoga guru headed back to his ashram at Haridwar, with the Uttar Pradesh police providing escort.
Authorities heaved a sigh of relief as the yoga guru accepted lime juice from two Dalit children and eatables from an elderly woman, to break his fast. He later led his supporters out of the Ambedkar stadium in central Delhi, declaring that with the support of several parties he was walking out “victorious.” He repeatedly raised the slogan, Congress hatao, desh bachao, which found resonance in the gathering.
In his hour-long speech, he criticised the Prime Minster and the Congress for their failure to bring back black money stashed away in foreign banks. He repeatedly stressed to his cheering supporters, who spent Monday night in the stadium with him, that he was leaving the capital because “we have won the battle and not lost the fight with the government.”
“Had there been voting in Parliament on Monday on black money when the matter was raised, the government would have fallen. We even got the backing of parties supporting the ruling alliance,” he said, adding “our agitation has ended but not our movement.”
“Mr. Prime Minister, tomorrow [Wednesday] is Independence Day,” the Baba said, “and if you do not speak [out] against corruption and black money in your address to the nation then you will be as guilty as those who are corrupt in your party.”
The Prime Minister should show political will and honesty to tackle the twin issues; otherwise — if he showed tolerance of corruption — he would be deemed corrupt, the Baba said.
The yoga guru gave the authorities some anxious moments when he said that had he and his supporters wanted, they could have stopped the Prime Minister from unfurling the flag on Independence Day. (The stadium is close to the Red Fort.)
However, his speech and departure for Haridwar were without incident.
His remarks evoked strong reactions from the government and the Congress. The Congress said the government had initiated steps on black money and even brought out a White Paper on it.
“The White Paper is a lie-paper,” said Ramdev, stressing that his “only priority would be to ensure the defeat of the Congress in 2014 and also in the Assembly elections in the States next year.”
However, when asked by the cheering crowds whom he wanted them to vote, Ramdev said he would reveal his cards around election time.
“Till then there will be no other movement by us.”
The yoga guru was joined by senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who alleged that the government did not want to bring back black money as it belonged to senior Ministers and Congress leaders.
The yoga guru thanked, among others, the RSS for its help in organising the fast, and the Indian diaspora abroad for sponsoring the event.
Later, asked about the reported links between Ramdev and the RSS on the black money issue, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi declined to comment, saying he had more serious things to do.