I can't be crushed or bought, says Baba Ramdev
Rediif.com's Sahim Salim reports from Ramlila Grounds in New Delhi, where yoga guru Baba Ramdev will begin his indefinite fast against corruption on Saturday.
Informing the government that he would continue with his 'satyagraha' till '100 per cent' of his demands are met, yoga guru Baba Ramdev on Friday said that the proposed hunger strike would take place as scheduled.
"Over one crore people from across India will join me in my fight against corruption. People will come to Ram Lila ground on Saturday, not to see Ram Lila, but to see the 'Rawan' of corruption getting killed. Some select few people with power and influence are cheating crores of people in India for their selfish needs. The black-money they have accumulated belongs to the Indian people and should be used for their benefit," Ramdev said on Friday evening at Ram Lila Maidan.
Describing his talks with the government as 'constructive,' the Baba said that he would not budge till all the demands are met.
"We have made some headway in the discussions. They have accepted some of our demands, but have failed to give us a proper time-frame. Till that is given, how can we call off the satygraha?" Ramdev asked.
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Image: Yoga guru Ramdev addresses his supporters at the Ramlila grounds in New Delhi on Friday
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
'It won't be good if government tries to stop us'
In a veiled threat to the government not to interfere in his 'andolan,' Ramdev said that 'it won't be good' if the government tries to stop them.
"I still maintain that this will be a peaceful demonstration, an andolan with no violence. But if the government tries to suppress or topple us, it will not be good," Ramdev said.
"I have told them that Baba Ramdev cannot be crushed or toppled or bought. It saddened me when rumors floated that I had been silenced after the government revived a 10-year-old file on me. I wish to remind them, I cannot be silenced. Till the logical end of this satyagraha is met, it will continue," Ramdev said.
Talking about the demands that the government has accepted, Ramdev said that the government has agreed to include Indian languages in institutions of learning.
"The government has said that they will introduce Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telungu and other Indian languages in our MBBS, engineering, agricultural colleges and universities. They have said that they will constitute a committee within three months to look into this. But they have not given us a time-frame within which the committee would enforce the changes," Ramdev said.
Ramdev also said that the government has accepted 99 per cent of his suggestion of introducing a fast track court to try corruption related cases.
"We told government representatives that matters related to corruption be tried immediately. They have agreed to set up central and state fast track courts to try corruption cases. We also demanded that such cases should not be dragged and should be decided within a year. Even though they have agreed, the government has not given us a time-frame in this also," Ramdev said.
Saying that an 'International Info Gateway' be constituted to check money transactions online, Ramdev said that majority of the people in power transferred money or exchanged information through the internet.
"This has to be stopped. So we suggested that an International Information Gateway be created. The government has said that they will create a database of such players. Again, no time frame has been given," Ramdev said.
Image: Baba Ramdev addresses his supporters at the Ramlila grounds in New Delhi on Friday
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
Make no mistake -- this Baba puts on a good show!
That he is no stranger to addressing a large crowd, with 30 news cameras trained on him, is no secret. Yoga guru Baba Ramdev does not read from notes when he talks. He speaks on the lines of responses he receives from his crowd. He jokes in between his speeches and then suddenly assumes seriousness.
After 'constructive' talks between Ramdev and the government, he addressed the 7000-strong crowd assembled at Ram Lila ground -- the centre for his 'satyagraha,' set to kick off on Saturday. Cleverly mixing words, he roped in men, women, villagers, auto-wallahs and even the press in his 'andolan.'
Directing looking at the posse of media personnel on the ground, he said, "Brothers and sisters from the media, bolo -- Vande ?"
And the trapped media personnel had no option but to comply with a " Matram!"
Such a simple exercise, but the result was that it looked like the press was with him in his 'andolan.' And not one to let go of an opportunity, Ramdev remarked, much to the delight of the crowd, "Arrey, are you from the media or revolutionaries like us?"
And just after that, he said, "I am extremely thankful to my brothers and sisters from the media. It is probably the first time in history that the media has supported an individual like me so large-heartedly."
Image: Supporters of Baba Ramdev practice yoga at Ramlila grounds in New Delhi on Friday
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
'The mothers ask me how can they eat when their son fasts'
Applying similar tactics, he roped in the women too.
"Look at them -- my sisters. They have left everything to join me here, because they love me like a brother. Some women who have come here have infants at their breasts -- that is how committed they are. The mothers in the crowd tell me I am like their son. They ask me how they can eat while their son, me, fasts. So they will join in my fast too," Ramdev said. At the end of this statement, the impressed women in the crowd went "We are with you, Baba ji!"
"And what about the men? My brothers, who have left their jobs and farms to come here. Applause for them as well!" the Baba boomed on the microphone.
And to the possible villagers in the crowd, he said, "I was a villager myself; my roots are in a village in north India. I have seen the persecutions, the insults that a villager has to endure. No more. Tomorrow (on Saturday), villagers from 624 villages will join me in my satyagraha."
His cleverness with words seem to be working as well. The Delhi Jal Board employees union has sponsored the supply of fresh drinking water and portable toilets to the protestors at the ground.
A brief mention of the auto-rickshaw wallahs in his speech ensured the pledge of one of Delhi's auto unions. The union has pledged that 20,000 auto-rickshaws will ferry people to Ram Lila Maidan for free on Saturday.
Make no mistake -- this man puts on a good show!
Image: File picture of women practicing yoga during Baba Ramdev's camp in Haridwar
'We couldn't have gained freedom without martyrs like Bhagat Singh'
Baba Ramdev also revisited his old controversial statements on Mahatma Gandhi and the martyrs.
After visiting the Rajghat and Bhagat Singh Park to pay his respect to Mahatma Gandhi, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, Ramdev told the 7000-strong crowd assembled at Ram Lila Maidan that the Bhagat Singh park was not as beautiful as the Rajghat.
"It is often forgotten that the first inspiration for India's independence was Shaheed Bhagat Singh. We could not have gained our independence if it were not for the sacrifices of our martyrs. Infact, I was born as a revolutionary and then adopted the Gandhian ways," the Baba said.
It may be recalled that Baba Ramdev had sparked controversy in 2006 when he had said that Mahatma Gandhi's non-violence alone did not achieve freedom for the country.
Ramdev said, "When I was in class VI, I remember being inspired by Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar Azad. Infact, the first sketch I made was of Chandrasekhar Azad. We should not forget our martyrs. And to make the Bhagat Singh park as beautiful as the Rajghat, my institution will donate Rs. 5 lakh," Ramdev said.
Image: Baba Ramdev offers prayers at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Rajghat in New Delhi on Friday