Yoga guru Baba Ramdev on Sunday warned the government that his supporters would be back in the Capital on August 9 to start a fresh agitation unless strong measures were taken to bring back black money stashed away abroad and designated as “national wealth.”
Speaking at the conclusion of his day-long fast at Parliament Street here, Baba Ramdev said his followers would, starting Monday and ending August 8, collect signatures from villages across the country to mobilise support for his campaign.
Baba Ramdev, sharing the stage with Anna Hazare, called upon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to pass a strong Lok Pal Bill to combat corruption. “Your personal honesty is not enough. You have to be politically honest too. You have to keep your Cabinet honest,” he said, addressing the Prime Minister.
Baba Ramdev said his followers would take to the streets from June 4, the anniversary of the infamous clampdown by the Delhi Police on his supporters at the Ramlila Maidan here last year, which left one woman dead, and mobilise public opinion in favour of bringing black money back to India and a strong Lok Pal Bill.
Delivering a restrained speech, Mr. Hazare focused on the need to bring in legislation enabling citizens with the “right to reject” corrupt legislators who take part in elections. He also denied rumours that his core group, dubbed Team Anna, wanted to prevent Baba Ramdev and him joining hands.
A slight commotion ensued when a man, claiming to be a disenchanted former supporter of Mr. Hazare and Baba Ramdev, threatened to immolate himself.
Baba Ramdev and Mr. Hazare began their fast after paying obeisance at Raj Ghat, Mahatma Gandhi's Samadhi, before proceeding to Parliament Street where a large crowd of Ramdev supporters had already assembled. Besides pasting Baba Ramdev's posters all over the venue, his Bharat Swabhiman Trust had erected a large tent to provide shade to the protesters. Giant screens were installed and water pouches distributed at regular intervals.
A bevy of religious and community leaders, including Baba Ramdev's close associate Acharya Balkrishna and Team Anna members Shanti Bhushan and Kiran Bedi were seated on the dais. They chanted patriotic slogans, which the huge crowds, unfazed by the sweltering heat, echoed.
In a combative speech, Acharya Balkrishna said that since June 4 last, there had been a witch-hunt against him, as part of which he received several notices from various investigating agencies, but till date none of the allegations against him had been proven. “The agencies are under pressure to act against Baba. In one year, they could do nothing to Baba. In future too, they will not succeed,” Acharya Balkrishna said. “The suffering of 80 crore Indian citizens had tormented Swami Ramdev so much that the yoga guru took up the fight against corruption.”
Other speakers at the venue were Dalit leader Udit Raj and Islamic scholar Maulana Kalbe Rushaid Rizvi.