Baba Ramdev betrayal sparks doom gloom in RSS
Senior BJP leaders at the party's national executive in Lucknow.
A pall of gloom descended over the saffron camp on Saturday evening following what was perceived to be a complete betrayal of a "mass movement" by Ramdev. His "treachery" has crashed the Sangh's hopes of discrediting the government on the issue of black money. The anti-corruption "movement" is all but over because, according to the RSS men who propped Ramdev, they promoted a "dubious icon".
During the meetings Ramdev and his deputy Balakrishan had with the Union ministers, the CBDT and ED officials showed them evidence of various illegalities in the setting up yoga centres and ayurvedic pharmacies by the Patanjali Yogpeeth. In fact, the Roorkee SDM's order of May 5 establishes that Ramdev's Patanjali Yogapeeth is involved in grabbing about 44 bighas of farmers' land in Aurangabad village in the Roorkee sub-division.
"They (the officials) may have put pressure on him. What can I sayâ€¦He has struck a deal without even telling us," Govindacharya, the man mobilising the Sangh cadre to join Ramdev's "movement", said. He agreed that the government may have "put pressure" on Ramdev because he has several dubious land deals and a vast empire of yoga ashrams and ayurvedic pharmacies. "He may be protecting his commercial interests," he added.
The RSS had exhorted all its state units and the ABVP activists to join Ramdev. Govindacharya's Bharat Swabhiman Trust also was mobilising workers. But all this effort went to waste. "He (Ramdev) did not involve any of us in negotiating with the government. He and his deputy Balakrishna were the chief negotiators and he became the chief spokesperson. Our Ved Pratap Vaidik was involved but perhaps even he was not told about the deal's actual contours," he added.
Ramdev's agitation was being sponsored by the RSS and supported by the BJP/VHP. The BJP's president, Nitin Gadkari, had even issued a statement supporting Ramdev. VHP leader Ashok Singh had announced his plan to join Ramdev's fast and the Ram Janmabhoomi poster-girl sadhvi Rithambhara was present at the venue of the fast.
The RSS second-in-command, Suresh Joshi, had written to all state units of the Sangh to extend whole-hearted support to Ramdev's movement, which was officially launched on June 4. An extraordinary appeal, it was being perceived by the common swayamsevaks as an equivalent to the Sangh's war cry against Indira Gandhi during the Emergency.
The men working overtime behind the scenes were Sangh ideologue K.N. Govindacharya and his friends - Ajit Doval of the Vivekananda International Foundation, Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy, RSS ideologue S. Gurumurthy et al - to be the figurehead of the "mass movement".
Despite a note of caution by some in the Sangh circles about Ramdev's credibility, these people still went ahead and projected him as an icon against corruption. The RSS had a limited goal to achieve in Ramdev's agitation - putting pressure on the government to disclose the names of the 18 Indians supplied by the LGT bank in Leichtenstein, a tax haven in Germany, and getting some kind of commitment to recover these assets. The idea was to discredit the government and make some brownie points on black money. But all these hopes crashed because Ramdev turned out to be "too smart". According to Govindacharya, the movement is "over". He said, "He (Ramdev) has spilt the milk. We did not even achieve our limited goal. All our effort has practically come to zilch."
On what the future holds, he said: "Right now, I am just watching him on television and laughing. Actually, I knew on Friday it was all over when I went to the Ramlila Maidan; I could figure out the way he was talking. Let me just take it in for now." The BJP, which had extended "moral support" to Ramdev, seemed very confused. "We don't know what has happened. All I can tell you is that the Congress is not serious about tackling corruption and they will undermine any effort to cleanse the system," BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said. The RSS did not say anything officially though a number of swayamsevaks were seen openly shouting slogans against the yoga guru.
The buzz in the Sangh circles is that an astrologer, who advises the saffron leaders on important issues, had told the organisers not to get too involved with Ramdev's movement as he would "fall flat on his face". By Friday evening, several cadres had called up the astrologer, telling him to keep a fast on Saturday as penance for his "wrong prediction".
For this reason, the soothsayer was actually fasting on Saturday when the twist in the tale appeared. "I am happy my prediction has come true," he said.