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
"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
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.