Cong dirty tricks dept runs riot
June 06, 2011 8:55:54 AM
Annapurna Jha | New Delhi
After a midnight crackdown on yoga guru Ramdev and his supporters, the Government on Sunday shut the door on further negotiations with him and let loose its Ministers and Congress leaders to tarnish Baba’s image by calling him a “thug and RSS agent” and questioning the source of his funds.
The move aims to check the political damage caused by the unleashing of brute force against peaceful demonstrators and its all-round condemnation. The Congress hoped that by dubbing Baba an RSS agent, the party could discredit him and at least bank on the support of the minority community.
The smear-Baba campaign had apparently been approved of by the top leadership of the Congress, which was earlier uncomfortable about the four Cabinet Ministers receiving the yoga guru at the airport.
However, with the yoga guru openly targeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi charging her of being “insensitive” to the sufferings of women and children of India due to her foreign origin, Sonia called an emergency meeting of the senior party leaders in the evening to devise a damage-control strategy. The meeting, attended by Home Minister P Chidambaram, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, decided to send the message to States to confront the challenge posed by “selfish” political forces which are trying to weaken the constitutional norms,” party general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said.
The decision to go whole hog against Baba has been taken as party realises that forcibly evicting Baba from Delhi has exposed it not only to criticism from its political adversaries but even from the civil society group with social activist Anna Hazare once again deciding to go a day-long fast at Jantar Mantar on June 8 seeking an answer from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against this attack on the democracy of the country.
The Government is conscious of the fact that its flip-flop on Baba — first giving him a red carpet welcome with four Ministers going to airport to meet him and then ultimately unleashing thousands of police officials on sleeping demonstrators — has made its position vulnerable.
However, adopting a brave face, the Government tried to defend itself on the ground that Ramdev’s hunger strike was a “political campaign” which could have created law and order problem in the national Capital as a large number of people had started gathering at Ramlila Maidan and terrorists could have infiltrated into them. It also charged Baba of violating the undertaking given while taking permission for a yoga camp and tried to discredit the yoga guru for going back on the written promise made to the Government after five-hour long talks with Union Ministers Sibal and Subodh Kant Sahay that he would make an announcement on Saturday afternoon about calling off “tapa” by June 6.
“It was not a yoga platform, but a political platform. The law and order had to be enforced in Delhi. We did not want any disruptions in that,” Kapil Sibal said and charged Ramdev with not being a trustworthy person as he had “cheated” the Government and also his followers by not honouring his commitment about calling of fast on June 6 made to the Government and not revealing it to his supporters.
Realising there was little chance of compromise with Ramdev now, the Government said that no further negotiations will be held with the yoga guru.
“There is nothing left to discuss (with Ramdev). On what issue we will talk. Whatever talks had to happen have already happened,” said Sahay, who had played a crucial role in negotiations with the yoga guru.
Though terming the police action to remove Ramdev as “unfortunate”, Pranab Mukerjee, who had played a crucial role in the Government’s decision, defended it on the ground that had Baba confined his protest to three days, it would not have happened.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal also used the same plea of maintaining law and order and criticised Ramdev for sharing dais with RSS leader Sadhvi Ritambhara in a communally sensitive area of Old Delhi. He also charged the yoga guru with not being honest.
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, who has been targeting Ramdev since beginning, intensifying his attack and termed Baba as a “thug (fraud)” who wanted to “fool the Government and people.” He justified police action against him and demanded that Baba should be probed. However, he tried to distance the party from the crackdown saying that it was the Government decision.
But his claim was refuted by Sibal, who said that the Government and the party were fully united on the police action a decision regarding which was taken on Saturday evening itself once the Baba refused to announce calling off his agitation. “Absolutely 100 per cent. No such action takes place without 100 per cent unity in the Government and the party,” he said.