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Ramdev crisis: Another mess the UPA couldn't clear up

By Renu Mittal
June 04, 2011 23:46 IST
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The government and Baba Ramdev have been unable to come to a negotiated settlement over the Baba's indefinite fast at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan. But the real story is the widening gulf between the Sonia Gandhi-led Congress party and the Dr Manmohan Singh led United Progressive Alliance government which has now come out almost in the open.

In an interesting development, Sonia Gandhi called a meeting of senior leaders at her residence at 6.30 pm on Saturday. Calls were made to all the members of the Congress Working Committee, including Dr Singh, to attend the meeting.

At the same time, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal was holding a press briefing to inform the media about the letter written by Baba Ramdev on Saturday, where he had reportedly agreed to call off the fast in a day or two, even before he began his protest.

According to Sibal, Baba Ramdev had already agreed to the government's request, but stated that he needed to carry on the fast for a day or two.

It is learnt that soon after calling the meeting, Gandhi cancelled it. The party has now asked the government to go all out to expose the Baba for the manner in which he was holding the government to ransom.

A senior leader, considered to be close to Gandhi, expressed his unhappiness over the manner in which the government had appeared totally ineffective about the Ramdev issue. He said it was the responsibility of the government to act on such issues but the reality was that it had not been able to handle the crisis situation. It was after this comment was made that Gandhi called the meeting of senior leaders to discuss the situation, before cancelling it.

Gandhi even took Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to task for going to the airport to meet Baba Ramdev after his arrival to persuade him to call off the fast, according to sources.

She is learnt to have told him that he should not have done that as it sent a wrong message. Mukherjee accepted that it was a mistake on his part that should have been avoided, said sources.

The tension has peaked in the Congress party and the blame game is on about who is responsible for the mess and fiascos which are taking place at regular intervals, with the government unable to act at the right time in the given situation.

Baba Ramdev announced on Saturday afternoon that he was satisfied with the assurances given by the government and he would be willing to call off his fast once he gets a written assurance. That is a clear sign that the Baba has caved in with Kapil Sibal successfully exposing the yoga guru for his claims.

The letters have delayed matters by a day, say senior leaders, since the government is now redrafting the written assurance to the Baba, as demanded by him. The verbal assurance is seen as a face saver for the yoga guru, who is being backed comprehensively by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

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