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Ramdev adopts anti-Congress stand

August 13, 2012 23:21 IST

Ramdev on Monday adopted a vigorous anti-Congress stand in his protest against black money and was arrested during a march to Parliament but late in the night he refused to quit the stadium from where he and his few thousand supporters were released.

Giving a slogan 'Congress hatao, desh bachao' (Remove Congress, Save the Country), Ramdev ended his five-day protest with a call to his supporters to march to Parliament for a dharna demanding immediate steps to bring back black money stashed abroad.

His protest fast was marked by dilly-dallying over the last three days as he deferred announcing his strategy in the face of central government's total indifference to his agitation against corruption.

Unlike in June last year when he was bundled out of Ramlila Maidan in a midnight police crackdown that attracted adverse comments of Supreme Court, police virtually adopted a kid glove approach this time in a bid to avoid any fracas.

At noon, police stopped him and his followers from moving ahead towards Parliament, three km from his protest venue Ramlila Maidan, and took them into preventive custody.

But what followed was a high drama that ended in Ramdev and his supporters being taken to a makeshift jail in Ambedkar stadium instead of the planned destination of a stadium Bawana in the city's outskirts.

Egged on by the pledge of support on the stage in Ramlila Maidan by BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav and representatives of TDP, Akali Dal and Janata Party, the yoga guru declared that his missiom will be to defeat Congress in the next elections.

As the bus in which he was being taken for custody made a snail's progress, the yoga guru made full use of the opportunity to attack Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul, forcing police to change plans.

Police then took him and his supporters to Ambedkar stadium by evening and by night announced that they are free to go home.

But Ramdev was in a different mood and stayed put along with his supporters saying they would not disperse unless food and water were provided to them.

"Boycot one party in the next elections," he said referring to Congress while he would later announce which party to support in the 2014 elections.

Referring to support from all the NDA and other parties, including remarks from SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati, he said "the government can fall in a day in Parliament if these parties want. Our movement has taken a decisive stand."

As the night progressed, anxious police officials led by Additional Commissioner Devesh Srivastava sought to convince him that the stadium was in the vicinity of Red Fort, where Independence Day celebrations would be held on Wednesday morning, and the assembly at the stadium would be a security threat.

Ramdev agreed that Independence Day had their sanctity and that he would consider the police appeal to them not to prolong the agitation till August 15.

"But the question of leaving the stadium tonight does not arise," he declared rejecting the police appeal for a quick vacation of the place.

He said they were prepared to go without food and water and other basic facilities the whole night.

"Terrorists are given biriyani and patriots are denied even water," Ramdev said alluding to crores of rupees being spent on Mumbai attack convict Ajmal Kasab.

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