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'The government was foolish to crack down on Ramdev'

Last updated on: June 7, 2011 16:26 IST

'Ramdev would have been exposed in a few days'

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A Ganesh Nadar

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev started his much publicised fast against corruption in New Delhi on Saturday morning; but less than 24 hours later he was picked up by the Delhi police and forcibly sent back to his ashram in Haridwar.

The arrest happened in the dead of night on Saturday. Was his arrest justified or an over-reaction on the government's part? Rediff.com's A Ganesh Nadar spoke to experts to find out their views on this development.

Dipankar Gupta, retired professor from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, feels that the government action was foolish. He said, "The government was very foolish to do what they did. He would have been exposed in a few days. People would have stopped coming after a few days. He would have been left with workers of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha. The government did not give him enough rope to hang himself."

Gupta added, "The government either has a low IQ or something to be afraid of. When you have fear and low IQ, this is what happens."

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Image: Ramdev's supporters scatter after teargas canisters were fired by the police
Photographs: Reuters
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'Democracy does not work like this'

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Achyut Yagnik, a social activist based in Ahmedabad, says the government action was immature.

"The way he (Baba Ramdev) was treated when he arrived at the Delhi airport did not show the maturity of the politicians. What was the need to send four cabinet ministers to meet him? The arrest was also immature," Yagnik says.

"He was externed from Delhi. That did not show statesmanship. Democracy does not work like this. There is no maturity in our democratic system. Our political leadership does not know how to behave like statesmen. He will continue his fast in Haridwar. Nothing will come out of it," Yagnik says.

"The Lokpal committee is not going to attend meetings in protest, so Parliament should decide on the issue. People's representatives will have to decide what we do next," Yagnik adds.

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Image: A policeman stands under an empty smoke-filled marquee after supporters of yoga guru Swami Ramdev were dispersed by teargas from the Ramlila grounds in New Delhi late on Sunday
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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'Powerful groups can't take law into their hands'

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Mansoor Alam, editor of a magazine in Delhi, came out in support of the government's action. He says, "Our Constitution is very clear about it. It says 'we the people'. 'We' gives space to everyone. To elect the government, civil society, all are inter-related. Everyone is allowed to play their role."

"You cannot dismantle the government before the elections. Powerful groups cannot take the law into their hands. Anna Hazare took a strong stand against corruption. People at large gave him support. The government initiated action," notes Alam.

"A committee was formed but differences are there. Both sides will have to accept each other's ideas. The prime minister deals with a lot of international and security issues. There is a prestige dimension to it. We have to consider that when we wish to bring him under the Lokpal bill. That is the same with the Chief Justice of India. But this requires intellectual debate," Alam says.

"We, the people of this country, are moving well into the future. We are moving to become a global power. Corruption is the main issue. National development must be kept intact. One movement was already going on. Another movement also started. Why?" Alam asks.

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Image: A supporter sits under an empty marquee after the place was cleared by the police
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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'Black money issue can't be solved with a magic wand'

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Baba Ramdev is talking about black money. That is a global problem. It cannot be done with a magic wand. An international law has to be made to make the banks disclose information about accounts. We should give people a chance to bring it back and pay tax," Alam says.

"We have to put pressure on the government, but can't take the law into our hands in the process. Working people into a frenzy won't help," he adds.

"Anna Hazare has everyone's support. Baba Ramdev has only the support of the RSS and BJP and they are trying to portray that as universal support. Ramdev himself has not shown his own sources of income. He has to show his own assets. Then people will have confidence in him," Alam says.

"Baba Ramdev took the wrong stand. He has misused his space. He has created a conflict between civil society and the government. The government is inflicted with corruption, poor implementation and red-tapism. Pressure against them has to be maintained in a different form. Law has to take action," he says.

"They want transparency in governance. The group applying pressure is itself corrupt. We need judicial reforms. People are exploiting the gap between the cup and the lip. Instead of acting during elections, they are acting between them," Alam notes.

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Image: Anna Hazare during his anti-corruption fast in New Delhi
Photographs: Reuters
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'Baba's arrest was undemocratic'

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Corruption should be thrown out during elections but that does not happen. Anna Hazare has people around him that have better credibility. Baba Ramdev does not have such people around him," he says.

"The BJP did not do well in the recent assembly elections in five states. So they are trying to gain attention by this method. This will harm the social fabric. Baba Ramdev's fast in his ashram will be relayed by TV channels to keep the issue alive. They must remember that the law has to play its role," Alam adds.

Qasim Iliyas, the spokesperson of the All India Muslim Personal Board, condemned Baba Ramdev's arrest strongly. He says, "The police action against Baba Ramdev was undemocratic. He has a democratic right to protest. He was not taking the law in his hands. There was no law and order problem. His arrest in the middle of the night was uncalled for. We strongly condemn it."


Image: A Baba Ramdev supporter being dragged away by the police
Photographs: Reuters
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