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'Mishandling' of Ramdev stir has isolated Congress: analysts

Monday June 06, 2011 08:43:43 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: The government's "mishandling" of anti-corruption agitation led by yoga guru Baba Ramdev has isolated the Congress politically, say analysts, stressing that the party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) needs to address the black money issue effectively.

N. Bhaskara Rao, chairman of the Centre for Media Studies, said the government displayed a lack of leadership, insight and direction in dealing with the fast by Ramdev on the issues of fighting corruption and black money.

"It blew hot and cold...That is not the way to handle the situation," Rao told IANS.

Four union ministers - Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal - along with Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar had gone to Delhi airport to meet Ramdev when he arrived in the capital June 1, ahead of his planned June 4 protest.

The government held several rounds of discussions with Ramdev before a past-midnight police swoop on him and his supporters at Ramlila Ground June 4.

The government later said that the yoga guru breached the understanding they had reached on ending his fast even though it had addressed his demands.

Rao said the government did not grasp the gravity of the situation as Ramdev has a much bigger support than social activist Anna Hazare, who went on a similar fast in April demanding a stringent anti-graft Lokpal bill.

He said the government should have gone public if it had set a deadline for Ramdev to end his fast.

"Whether the prime minister and the home minister were responsible (for police action), the decision has political implications. The Congress is politically isolated... everybody is condemning the incident," he said.

He added that the police action could be a conspiracy by people with unaccounted money to sidetrack the issue.

Nisar-ul-Haq, head of the political science department of Jamia Millia Islamia, said the government committed some mistakes in handling the agitation of Ramdev but the Congress did not lose its credibility to fight corruption.

"The credibility of the Congress is still intact. Some MPs are in jail in corruption cases. The government is clear about fighting corruption," he said.

He said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had ceded opposition space to Ramdev, which was "not good for the country's politics".

He said corruption was not the focus of Ramdev's agitation as he had turned it into "a political issue".

Haq said the government committed a mistake by sending police personnel to Ramlila Ground. "They should have allowed it for one or two more days. The agitation would have fizzled out."

He said that the action being taken by the government now to probe assets of Ramdev should have been done earlier.

Paras Nath Choudhary, a political commentator who was a researcher in Heidelberg University in Germany, said the government's sending four ministers to talk to Ramdev was "a calculated attempt to mislead him".

"On the one hand they sent four ministers. On the other, they allowed (Congress leader) Digvijay Singh to lambast him (Ramdev). It was calculated to achieve certain goals. When failed, they went the other way," he said.

He said Ramdev had raised very important issues and had done "a great job".

Choudhary said Ramdev had become a millstone around the government's neck. "The masses are behind him. Any ploy by the government will not work. Truth will come out and perhaps there will be a new dispensation," he said.





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