Yoga guru Baba Ramdev is determined to go ahead with his proposed
hunger strike for purging corruption from society, even as Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi met here
to find ways to dissuade the saffron-clad sanyasi, who has
thousands of middle class followers for his yogic and healing
Support for Ramdev, 46, came from not only the political class,
but also from spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Gandhian Anna Hazare, who had gone on a fast in April to press for
a strong anti-graft Lokpal Bill, extended his support to the yoga
guru. But he cautioned him against "government tactics". He also
denied rifts between him and Ramdev.
Ramdev, who enjoys a huge following for offering cures for many
lifestyle-related diseases, including cancer, through yoga, is to
go on a fast from Saturday in New Delhi's sprawling Ramlila Ground
to demand measures to curb corruption and bring back black money
Although Ramdev's close associates said that the yoga guru was
determined to go on the hunger strike, there was no news of the
Baba himself after his morning appearance in Gurgaon, bordering
Delhi. Through the day, government tried to persuade him through
As the government feared a repeat of the Anna Hazare-like mass
movement in the country or one even bigger than that as Ramdev has
a bigger fan following, the Congress core committee met at prime
minister's 7 Race Course Road residence to find urgent ways to
address the issue.
The meeting was attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi,
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P. Chidambaram
and other senior leaders.
The committee decided to dispel all impressions that there were
differences between the government and the party over the strategy
to deal with Ramdev's agitation, sources said.
The government is hopeful it will be able to persuade the yoga
guru as Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal is
scheduled to meet Ramdev Friday.
But, his close associates said despite various government
officials meeting Ramdev, he was determined to go on a hunger
"Many government people have approached Baba Ramdev, but how can
any one stop the cause the Baba has initiated," his spokesperson
S.K. Tijarawala asked while speaking to IANS.
He also said various sections of the society, irrespective of
caste and creed, will join the Baba's cause. "People from almost
every district are coming forward to join the cause the Baba has
taken up. The government has so far made false promises, but this
time they can't escape. Baba Ramdev is fighting for the cause of
the nation and to make the system corruption free."
"The prime minister has taken a serious note of Baba Ramdev's
call," Tijarawala added.
Ramdev, who met his close associates but called off his press
conference at the Ramlila Ground Thursday, told reporters in
Gurgaon: "More than 70 lakh people die of hunger every year in the
country according to the Global Hunger Index."
"Those who are indirectly responsible for the death of more than
70 lakh people, what should be the punishment for them? No one
sees 70 lakh people dying, but if someone corrupt is being hanged,
they say 'Save him'."
Support came for Ramdev and his cause from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
"We are all together in the cause. Our working styles are a little
different but we are all together no doubt. I am not going on fast
because it will have more international impact," he told the Times
Now TV news channel.
"I don't want these things to go beyond the Indian border and have
people all over the world getting upset. I don't want such things
to happen so I am keeping a low profile but I am supporting fully,
the cause. We are all together," he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also reiterated its support for
BJP president Nitin Gadkari said that they "support Ramdev's
demands and will include it in our political resolution" at the
two-day national executive meeting beginning in Lucknow Friday.
Senior lawyer and BJP Rajya Sabha member Ram Jethmalani also said
he supported the yoga guru as he was fighting for the restoration
of the country's stolen property.
Although the Congress wooed Ramdev, party leader Digvijay Singh
again attacked Ramdev. "Even to teach yoga, he charges Rs.50,000
from those who sit in the front seats,
Rs.30,000 for the backseat and Rs.1,000 for the last seat. What
else is this," he asked while addressing a meeting in Moradabad in
The Congress general secretary said the party was not scared of
Ramdev and was holding discussions with him.
"If the Congress was scared, Ramdev would have been put behind
bars. There is no fear that is why he is out in the open and there
are discussions with him," he said.
In an unprecedented act that appeared to betray government
nervousness, as many as four ministers, including Pranab Mukherjee,
met Ramdev when he arrived at the Delhi airport Wednesday to try
stop his hunger strike. But, the red carpet treatment did not
However, Anna Hazare had a different take.
"Four ministers went there to receive him, had one or two gone it
was fine. When so many ministers go, it means they are trying to
fool Baba. They will give assurances to delay the matter," he said
in his village Ralegaon Siddhi.
"I'll talk to Baba Ramdev so that he does not get influenced by
government tactics. The government should not do to Baba what they
did to us," Hazare told reporters.
Hazare, however, said he would not fast with Ramdev but support