Ramdev’s call for ‘sena’ triggers new war of words

Upping the ante in his confrontation with the United Progressive Alliance government, Baba Ramdev declared on Wednesday that he would be forming a ‘sena,' or army, of 11,000 young men and women — trained in the use of “scripture and weapons” — to counter any future attempt by the police to disrupt his movement.

His announcement, on the fifth day of his fast against corruption, was denounced by the Congress as a call to rebellion, while Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said the law would deal with the Baba were he to act upon his threat.

Government doctors who conducted a medical check on Ramdev in the morning advised him to give up his fast as he had lost weight rapidly, reportedly 5 kg. The condition of some of his supporters, who are also on fast, was deteriorating and they were seen lying down instead of participating in bhajans.

Speaking to followers at the Yagyashala of Patanjali Yogpeeth, Ramdev said: “I appeal that 20 young men and women from every district should come here to be trained in shaastra and shastra [weapons].” He added that his sena would ensure that he did not lose any battle on the Ramlila Maidan in future, a reference to his midnight eviction last week by the Delhi police. At the same time, he insisted that his sena would be raised “only for self-defence.”

Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who interacted with Ramdev, told journalists later that she had come to pay a courtesy call and enquire about his health. Ms. Swaraj lashed out at the Centre for having first sent four Ministers to talk with Ramdev and then silently sending 5,000 policemen to attack and disperse his sleeping followers at night.

Extending the BJP's support to the yoga instructor, Ms. Swaraj said he had refused to end his fast. Among the other visitors was Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal, providing further ammunition to the Centre's charge that the sangh parivar was behind his campaign.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 7:03:05 PM |

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