New Delhi: High drama
took place in the heart of the capital Monday as Baba Ramdev was
detained while leading a big march to parliament to push his
demand for bringing back black money stashed abroad. Let off
later, the yoga guru announced his decision to stay put at the
detention venue even as he indicated plans to oppose the Congress
in the 2014 polls.
His campaign also got a big fillip with various political parties,
including many supporting the government, coming out in open
Proceeding to parliament, Ramdev and a few thousands of his
supporters were stopped and detained for almost five hours. Police
had a tough time getting him and his supporters to board around
100 buses as they kept alighting and shouting slogans, while some
of them also lay down on the road.
With Ramdev's supporters moving at snail's pace, police decided to
detain them at Ambedkar Stadium close to Ramlila Maidan. Let off
by evening, Ramdev refused to leave the stadium and also urged
people from neighbouring areas to come there Tuesday to send a
strong message to the government.
Hitting out at the Congress, he said it was the only party not
supporting his fight for bringing back black money and it should
not get support of people.
"I will tell (before 2014 polls) whom to elect and whom to
defeat," Ramdev said.
Answering queries from media, Ramdev said his supporters would
stay put at the stadium during the night though there were no
facilities and people were hungry.
He blamed the government for not making arrangements of food for
people it had detained.
The yoga guru seemed to soften his position a bit towards late
night, saying he would stay put Monday night but was "seriously
considering" a word from police to vacate the premises before Aug
Police sources said Ambedkar stadium falls on the route Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to take to unfurl the
tricolour on the Independence Day and the area had to be "security
Before Ramdev's march, a host of political leaders joined him at
Ramlila Maidan - including Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president
Nitin Gadkari, Janata Dal-United (JD-U) chief Sharad Yadav, Janata
Party chief Subramanian Swamy and some Akali Dal leaders.
After speeches slamming the government's "inaction" on black
money, Ramdev, asserting the protest was peaceful, led his
tricolour-waving and black bandana-sporting supporters on a march
to Parliament House.
Security personnel, including paramilitary force personnel, were
however present in strength to stop him at Ranjit Singh flyover
that leads to Connaught Place in central Delhi.
A police official gingerly held Ramdev's hand to show he was being
detained, perhaps keeping in mind the controversy over Delhi
Police's brutal action on his sleeping supporters a year ago in
which a woman lost her life.
According to Delhi Police, some of the supporters were detained
and taken to Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Bawana, 20 km away, but
majority of them had to be detained in Ambedkar Stadium.
Ramdev had appealed to the government to heed his demands, failing
which he would lead a march to Parliament. However, the government
remained unmoved and no emissary went to him unlike last year when
three senior ministers were sent to the airport to talk to to him.
The Congress Monday hit out at Ramdev and accused him of fighting
a "political battle" in the name of campaigning against black
money. Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, referring to
Gadkari and other political leaders sharing the dais with Ramdev,
said Ramdev's "mask" had come off.
The issue of black money also echoed in parliament with the BJP
creating a ruckus in the Lok Sabha on the issue, leading to an
adjournment of the house.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati,
addressing reporters outside parliament, said they would support
anyone raising their voice against black money. Biju Janata Dal
chief and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik too supported
Ramdev launched a three-day symbolic fast Aug 9 for the return of
black money, a strong Lokpal Bill, and a transparent process in
naming heads of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the
Election Commission. On Saturday evening, he extended his fast and
threatened a "revolution" after the government failed to react.