Gestures to Ramdev show government's seriousness

June 02, 2011 11:40 am | Updated November 17, 2021 01:26 am IST - NEW DELHI:

A point that has been repeatedly made by government spokespersons was that the Centre had already been dealing with the issues raised by yoga guru Baba Ramdev and social activist Anna Hazare. In fact, a Cabinet Minister said: “We had promised in our 2009 manifesto to enact a Lokpal Bill and with or without civil society, it will become a law. As far as black money is concerned, the Finance Minister had in January listed the series of actions that the government had taken on the matter.”

Externally, the government's spin doctors spoke of their appreciation of Baba Ramdev's contribution in making Indians health-conscious through his popularisation of yoga. But the underlying message was that it might have been better had he stuck to his yoga and health business.

Meanwhile, the negative reaction to a team of four Cabinet Ministers going to meet Baba Ramdev at the Delhi airport on Wednesday — even within the Congress — forced senior Ministers to defend the action. “When we don't talk to people, we are described as insensitive,” a senior Minister said, adding, “When we show our sincerity by talking, we are described as weak.”

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's presence at the airport has particularly riled the Congress: responding to that, a Minister said: “The fact that a person of Mr. Mukherjee's seniority went to talk to Baba Ramdev is an indication of our seriousness.” But the message has gone home: though Mr. Mukherjee is clearly the key strategist when a team of Ministers meets Ramdev on Friday, he is unlikely to be part of the group, government sources said.

When the group meets Ramdev, the effort, government sources said, would be to end the “communication gap”: “His intentions and our intentions are the same — to end corruption, but there has been a communication gap. That needs to be bridged.” And on Friday, as on Wednesday, he will be warned about “the political elements who want to gain mileage” out of his campaign. But if none of that works, there could be some tough talk — and action, the government sources said.

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