June 11, 2011 7:24:17 PM
Previously, the Congress was able to brazen out scandalous truth through bullying, deceit, lying and political cunning. Now it hopes that by slandering Ramdev and the RSS, it will be able to put a lid on mounting allegations of corruption against the party and the Government.
The world is a battlefield. All great gurus and avatars have incarnated themselves throughout the ages to help the forces of good, which in India are called ‘dharmic’, against forces which are inimical to the Evolution of Humanity and which are called ‘adharmic’, or even asuric.
The concept of the asura in India is very different from the West. There is no such thing here as the black and white renderings of American cartoons or the Christian idea of a benevolent god and a cruel devil. Keen observers of human history may have noticed that very often asuric forces take on the face of goodness and charity, or use half truths or semi-lies to appear good. But in the end, the harm they do should make them recognisable to all.
In this light, we can discard Mr Digvijay Singh: He incarnates the world of sycophancy, which is a perversion of the Indian bhakti tradition. Or even Mr Kapil Sibal, a more intelligent man, but who got so perverted by a lawyer’s mind that lying has become a second nature to him. History will probably judge Mr Manmohan Singh as a weak man, who was ready to close his eyes on everything just to stay in power.
But what about Ms Sonia Gandhi? What are the forces which are using her, maybe even in spite of her? Let us discard all those evil avatars attributed to her, such as her being a KGB or a Vatican agent, rumours which have been floating around for a long time. We should not also look at her personality, what she projects, or what people say about her, not even at her deeds. No, it is the visible consequences of her overt and covert actions which should tell us a story. What are the consequences of her being the unelected supreme authority in India since many years, one whose one word or glance can have innocent people teargassed and beaten up?
Well the first sign is the increase in terrorist onslaughts since she came to power; the 26/11 terror attacks and the inability of the Government to respond to them — on the spot, and later — are the best symbols of her presence at the top. There has also been a tremendous increase in Christian conversions since she came to power, a radicalisation of Islam in India and a galloping Westernisation, which is fast eradicating Indian culture in cities and major towns.
But to my mind, it is the attack on Hindu gurus, which is the most representative sign of her adharmic reign. For in Ms Gandhi’s India, Hindu gurus are not only mocked at, but they can also be imprisoned, attacked, killed one day. Nobody would dare touch an imam if he preaches secession, nor even a Christian bishop, but gurus are fair game today.
Now Swami Ramdev, who incarnates an old tradition of spirituality in India, of all these gurus who throughout the ages have come to teach and preserve this ancient knowledge which takes the form of hatha-yoga, pranayama, meditation or Ayurveda. Is he perfect? How to judge a guru, who is to grade them? Sri Aurobindo, in one of his aphorisms, said something like this: “Even if god were to manifest himself in front of thy very eyes, you would not recognise him.” I am not able to judge Ramdev, but I can say with confidence that what he teaches is good, because it has benefited thousands of people.
Why then is he run down so much by the Congress whose leaders have gone as far as calling him a thug? Well it’s an old British tradition which has been taken up by the Congress and part of the media. French historian Daniélou summed it up well in his History of India: “The British-controlled Congress utilised to the hilt its English-speaking Press to present the Hindu Mahashaba, which attempted to counterbalance the Muslim League’s influence, or the even more maligned Ram Rajya Parishad, as barbaric, fanatical, ridiculous; and the British media in turn, took-up, as parrots, the cry of their Indian counterparts.” (Histoire de l’Inde)
In the case of Swami Ramdev, there are also accusations of an ‘empire’ worth hundreds of crores and even an island. Well a guru has to decide: Either he stays in a cave and looks after his own salvation, or if he has come to help humanity, he will have first a few disciples, then a few hundreds, eventually thousands. He has to feed them, organize courses, satsangs, launch sewa projects. You need money for all that. Donations come, bigger and bigger, as the good work of this particular guru comes to be known. The funds have to be managed, more and more money is needed and gurus end up being like the head of a multinational corporation, with a hundred projects, all sewa-oriented, to manage. I have seen it at close hand.
The fact that Ramdev got manhandled is nothing new. Gurus come to save humanity, but men either mock them or even crucify them. That is also in the nature of things.
So who will win this battle of Kaliyuga? Sri Aurobindo came to announce the Supramental: He said that as there was man after the animal, so would there come a superman after man. Not the superman of the Hollywood series, but a man who is closer to beauty, love, compassion. One of the main attributes of the supermind, he stated, would be truth.
This is why at the moment in India, the magnifying glass of truth is put upon men and events and falsehood comes out in the form of the stupendous scams that have happened in the last few years.
Previously, the Congress was able to brazen it out, through bullying, deceit, lying and political cunning. Will it be able to do so this time? We have seen how it hopes that by slandering Ramdev and his very nice assistant, planting rumors, using the eternal scarecrow of the RSS (those old fuddy-fuddies, who most of the time could not harm a fly), it hopes to put a lid on all the suspicions which are hanging over their head.
For the first beneficiary of the 2G or the CWG scams, is not the DMK, but the Congress. They are the ones who have institutionalised political corruption, the bribing of parliamentarians and elections which cost hundred of crores to elect a single MP.
If truth does triumph, then Ms Gandhi’s role will also come in the open, along with the truth about Italian middleman Ottavio Quattrocchi and the enormous covert funds the Congress is believed to be controlling. It may take time, but karma is inevitable. That is also an ancient Indian truth.
R Jagannathan Jun 6, 2011 When Baba Ramdev was bundled out of Delhi unceremoniously, it was a forceful message from the Congress-led UPA government that it was not going to vacate space for civil society to muscle in on its turf — unless the civil society members happen to be Sonia Gandhi groupies. It is also an indication that orders for the crackdown on the Baba came from the political power centre – Sonia Gandhi herself. It marks a new assertion of party over government in order to seize the political initiative from a bumbling Manmohan Singh. But it is worth understanding what really transpired these last few weeks, when the government first started humouring the Baba, held detailed discussions with him, and then hit him on the head – metaphorically – with a club when he was least expecting it. Who betrayed whom? Was it the government, which came out waving a paper saying the Baba went back on his promise to call off the fast? Or was it the Baba, who found the government closing in on him, and decided to back away from a deal he knew was not good for his future? I believe it was the government which decided to pull the plug on the Baba deal. It flows from the answer to the question: why was the Congress schmoozing with the Baba in the first place when it knew he had deep Sangh Parivar connections? The Congress has a problem in the north, where the BJP is a potent threat everywhere, except Uttar Pradesh. This is where the Baba comes in handy. Reuters The answer: the Congress wined and dined him precisely because he was close to the Sangh Parivar. It was not something they discovered later, when Sadhvi Ritambara turned up at the Baba’s fast-fest. In the Congress book of dirty tricks, this is old hat. Whenever the Congress sees a looming political threat, it backs a rival in the same camp to break away and undercut the original threat. To deal with the Akalis in Punjab, Indira Gandhi backed Bhindranwale. To destroy the Shiv Sena, it backed Raj Thackeray, and won the last elections purely from this vote division. To undercut the National Conference, it broke bread with Mufti Sayeed’s PDP in the last decade before it dumped the PDP again for the National Conference. Of course, the Congress also reaps the whirlwind when it sows the wind (Indira was killed by Sikh extremists, and Rajiv fell to the LTTE’s suicide bomber), but that’s another story. It is also worth recalling that the Congress won the last elections in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu precisely because a third player (Praja Rajyam in Andhra, and Vijayakanth’s DMDK in Tamil Nadu) ate into opposition votes and brought the Congress (or the Congress alliance) victory. But for these spoilers, Chandrababu Naidu and AIADMK would have won in 2009. So who do you need to fix before 2014 in the same way? While there are obviously a whole range of regional and sectarian parties who are local threats to the Congress in various states, the only national threat is the BJP, which, despite being rudderless over the last seven years, is the only party capable of upsetting the Congress’ apple-cart. Within the BJP, the biggest threat is Narendra Modi, who has shown that he can get the measure of the Congress, and has the potential to galvanise the party and the majority community to action — given the right political circumstances, which, admittedly, don’t exist for now. But who knows what will be the scenario in 2014? It explains why the Congress is using activists like Teesta Setalvad and the National Advisory Council (NAC) and other one-dimensional secularists to fix him – whether in court or through a blatantly communal Bill to tackle communal violence. The Bill is specifically targetted at Hindu organisations, and no one else. It will never see the light of day, but that does not stop undemocratic NAC members from trying to force it down our throats. But, at another level, the Congress has a problem in the north, where the BJP is a potent threat everywhere, except Uttar Pradesh. This is where the Baba comes in handy. How? In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and also in the rest of the Hindi belt, the Baba could cut into BJP votes if he floats a political party. He doesn’t have to win any seats. If he merely takes away 4-5% of the BJP vote, it is enough for the Congress to win. This is the primary reason why the Congress has been humouring the Baba and talking of doing a deal with him on corruption. Unfortunately, the deal fell through, either because the Congress was trying to be too clever with him, or was trying to fix him in other ways – and he balked at the prospect. This is what forced the midnight swoop – something the Congress had not planned for when it began talking with him. The second reason why the Baba was useful to the Congress was his unwillingness to let the Anna Hazare group run off with the anti-corruption agenda. The Baba’s ego would not let him be a supporter of the Hazare camp, which had eminent lawyers well-versed in the art of drafting laws. It also had the support of the middle-class. The Congress egged on Baba with his rural and small-town clout to stymie the Hazare group. The Congress had no reason to let Anna & Co dictate the new Lokpal bill, and the Baba’s political ambitions proved useful to drive a wedge between the two camps. While the midnight action has temporarily allowed the two camps to kiss and make up, the two cannot ultimately work together. Since the Anna group has lost vital momentum, it is now possible for the Congress to impose its own Lokpal Bill with some minor concessions to civil society and reclaim the agenda. A perceptive comment by K Raman on Firstpost shows how the Baba has been neutered, and Anna sidelined: “A man who owns a private island in Scotland, has an annual turnover of Rs 1,000 crore and flies around in a private jet would obviously have a few skeletons in his cupboard… In the next 10 days, one after the other the skeletons will tumble down… The Baba could be fixed in that way..”. As for Anna & Co, Raman says: “..the government has clearly sent out the message that if they mess around, then they too will meet the same fate as the Baba. Shanti Bhushan’s statement that the Prime Minister and the government has to resign is not helpful, to say the least…Now with what face will this team go back and discuss with the same government on Lokpal Bill?” Clearly, the Congress used the Baba and discarded him when he did not toe the line. The BJP need not be too unhappy, too. The Baba was meant to cut it down to size. So while it may fulminate against the government for its midnight “Jallianwala Bagh”, it should be secretly happy that one potential rival for the Hindu vote is out of the way. The Congress has won – for now. While the Baba did not serve its short-term purpose, the party may still hold the high cards when it comes to getting him to float a party to cut into the BJP vote. But just as a week is a long time in politics, such political manoeuvres are not enduring. The only question is whether, when it is politics as usual, the ordinary citizen has lost out. The upsurge of grassroot support when Anna Hazare began his fast has died down. Cynicism rules. Congress gains.
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.