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Ramdev's parliament march thwarted, gains wide political support

Monday August 13, 2012 11:11:29 PM, IANS

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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 support.

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 15.

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 cleared."

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's campaign.

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.


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