Ramdev arrest: Parties react sharply
Following his arrest, support for Baba Ramdev seems to pour in. While the Bharatiya Janata Party declared a 24-hour satyagrah, the Uttarakhand chief minister assured the Baba that he could continue his protest in the state if he wanted to. With the Left and Samajwadi Party joining in to criticise the UPA, th government seems isolated
The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Samajwadi Party may not see eye to eye. However, what made them unwittingly join hands was the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government's action against yoga guru Ramdev, who was arrested and lathicharged while staging a satyagrah at the Ram Leela grounds in New Delhi in protest against corruption and black money.
Both BJP president Nitin Gadkari and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Sunday stood up against what they termed the UPA regime's "brutality" against the spiritual guru and his silently protesting supporters.
Taking strong exception to Digvijaya Singh's reference to Ram Dev as "a thug", Mulayam added, "It was unbecoming of any senior political leader to use such blasphemous language against anyone."
Addressing a press conference in Lucknow, Gadkari not only demanded an apology from Prime MInister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, but added, "Such a government should not continue in office."
Calling for a nationwide protest demonstration on Sunday, he also declared that all top BJP leaders would observe a 24-hour 'satyagrah' at the Rajghat in New Delhi to express their resentment against the "undemocratic and dictatorial ways of the UPA regime."
The BJP chief said, "The brutality displayed by the government in dealing with Ramdev and his simple supporters raising their voice against corruption and black money, reflects the apathy of those sitting at the helm of affairs towards these vital issues."
"It appears that the Congress leadership was scared to let anyone raise the issues of corruption and black money, as it would bring out many more skeletons from their own cupboard."
Gadkari added, "That is why we have decided to sit on a 24-hour satyagrah at the Rajghat in New Delhi, from 7 pm on Sunday."
Top BJP leaders including LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and many others would join the satyagrah, he added.
Asked whether they would be allowed to observe the satyagrah considering that the Delhi administration has clamped section 144 in the wake of developments at the Ramdev protest, Gadkari declared, "Permission or no permission, we will go ahead with our protest irrespective of the consequences which we are ready to face."
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Image: Nitin Gadkari
Ravanleela at Ram Leela ground: Modi
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi alleged that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was responsible for the crackdown on Baba Ramdev and his followers in New Delhi and dubbed the police action as "Ravanleela in Ramleela ground".
Condemning the incident as the "worst" day in the history of India, Modi said, "The PM had said during the elections that he would bring back black money stashed in Swiss banks within 100 days of coming to power. But today, it is two years and nothing has happened."
Modi said, "The Congress will have to answer 120 crore people of India about the use of violence on innocent people. I would like to tell Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that you cannot escape by saying that you did not know. You are directly responsible for what has happened at the Ramleela ground in Delhi."
"The lathi-charge on innocent people has been at your (Manmohan Singh) behest on behalf of the Delhi sultanate and not by the Sheila Dixit government," Modi said.
He said the lathi-charge by police while people were sleep, was "Ravanleela at Ramleela ground." The police first attacked people in their sleep and then took away Baba Ramdev and did not disclose where he has been taken, Modi said adding, "Even the US, after killing (Osama) bin Laden had revealed to the world what they had done in two hours."
"The Delhi sultanate is firm on suppressing the voice against corruption," he added.
Modi said the government's action against Baba Ramdev reminded him of the days of Emergency, which too coincidently was in the month of June in 1975.
"The intervening night of June 4-5 is the beginning of the end of the Delhi sultanate," he warned.Click NEXT to read further...
Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
Centre has lost mental balance: Mulayam
The Samajwadi Party on Sunday said the police action against Baba Ramdev and his supporters showed that the "central government has lost its mental balance".
"The way in which the police brutally dealt with Ramdev and his supporters, including women, shows that the UPA government is afraid of him. It's an act against democracy... It seems that the central government has lost is mental balance," party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav told mediapersons.
The action taken against Baba Ramdev would increase his followers and those who did not like him would also join the agitation, he claimed. "The UPA government might feel that it has three years left (in power). But the common man will oust them for their undemocratic act. The situation arising out of Ramdev's protest could have been solved through talks," Yadav said.
In an apparent reference to Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, Yadav said some Congress members did not know how to talk and should improve the language in which they spoke.
"A Congress leader said that Baba is a thug. I want to say that the Congress is the biggest thug and it should introspect its deeds," the SP chief said.
Asked whether he was in support of UPA-II or against it, Yadav said the SP did not have an alliance with Congress and it was supporting the UPA government only on the issue of keeping communal forces at bay. "If Advaniji wants to oust the UPA, I will support it," he said.
Yadav said the way in which Ramdev's agitation was curbed appeared like foreign forces had attacked the country. Asked about Ramdev's letter to the Centre which apparently interrupted the talks, Yadav said there was nothing wrong in the letter and the government should not have released it.
"The Centre is not concerned about the intrusion from our borders, which are not safe. Pakistan and China have joined hands and China is entering Indian territory inch by inch every day. But unfortunately, there were n talks on this issue," Yadav further said.
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Image: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav
UPA has undermined democratic institutions: CPI
The Communist Party of India on Sunday came down heavily on the UPA government for not taking political parties and Parliament into confidence while dealing with agitations by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev against corruption, and accused it of "undermining" the democratic process.
The party's national secretary D Raja asked why the government did not act against Ramdev's agitation when it was clear from "the beginning that right-wing organistaions like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak were involved in the protest."
"The government is alone responsible for the current situation...it should have acted then...the government has undermined democratic institutions, be it Anna Hazare's agitation or Ramdev's protest," he said.
He said the government negotiated with Ramdev and Hazare on its own and announced the formation of separate committees without consulting political parties. He alleged that the RSS and other saffron outfits were "remote-controlling" the agitation by Baba Ramdev and accused the BJP of being "hypocrtical".
"The timing of the fast is also to be noted. When the BJP is holding its national executive meet, the fast began here. The RSS and other people took part in it," he said. The Rajya Sabha MP also accused the BJP of adopting "double standards" on the issue of corruption.
Raja also asked Ramdev to clarify whether he was a "yoga guru" or a "political person".
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This is UPA's shaitani raj: Shiv Sena
The Shiiv Sena also condemned the police action against Baba Ramdev, terming the yoga guru's forcible eviction from Ramleela grounds as shameful. "It is shocking that those who were carrying out a peaceful agitation were beaten up and their pandal was vandalised," Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said.
"We express our strong condemnation of the UPA government's shaitani raj," she said.
With talks with the government breaking down, the police swooped down on Baba Ramdev and his supporters a little after midnight on Saturday and removed him from the scene after using tear-gas shells and resorted to lathicharge on his supporters to end his day-old indefinite hunger strike against the black money issue.
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Photographs: Rediff archives
The Centre owes an explanation: Nitish Kumar
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar slammed the UPA government for its use of "brute force" to evict yoga guru Baba Ramdev and his supporters from Ramleela grounds in New Delhi, describing it as a "major blow to democracy".
"The Centre owes an explanation on the issue," he said, "It is a major blow to democracy and an attack on the democratic rights of the people...It is also an attack on the fundamental rights of citizens," and expressed anguish at the midnight action on "peaceful" protesters, including women and children.
"The Congress should explain as to what compelled it to act in a brazen manner against the yoga guru and his supporters within hours of engaging him in a dialogue over a set of demands to curb corruption," he said.
"As many as four central ministers and top officials were holding parleys with Ramdev for several days and reverentially describing him as 'Baba'. What compelled the government to change its tactics and take extreme action against the protesters?" Kumar asked.
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Image: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar
Baba welcome to Uttarakhand to continue his protest: CM
Strongly backing Baba Ramdev's "peaceful" agitation against corruption, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal on Sunday assured the yoga guru of "full security" if he decides to continue his protest in his state.
"If he (Ramdev) wants to continue his agitation and protest in Uttarakhand, then he has full freedom to do it," Pokhriyal said, hours after Delhi police disrupted the fast at Ramleela maidan.
"What was wrong with Baba's peaceful agitation? Why did the government get scared? If Baba comes to Uttarakhand, we will give him full security."
Since there is a danger to Ramdev's life, the Uttarakhand government will provide full security to him. "Our government has always been against corruption," he said.
With additional reportage from PTI
Image: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal