Hours after he and his supporters were dramatically evicted from the Ramleela maidan in New Delhi by the police, Baba Ramdev spewed venom on Congress President Sonia Gandhi and claims that there had been an attempt to eliminate him. Sheela Bhatt reports on his press conference
An emotional and angry Baba Ramdev on Sunday sharply criticised Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Addressing the first press conference after his dramatic arrest on Sunday morning, Baba Ramdev claimed that he was forcibly shifted to his ashram in Hardwar from New Delhi's Ramleela maidan.
Alleging a conspiracy, he claimed: "They wanted to kidnap me and kill me or send me somewhere." He also vowed to continue his fast.
'I thought Sonia is the daughter-in-law of this country'
Taking on Sonia Gandhi, Ramdev said, "I thought she (Sonia) is not born in this country but is the daughter-in-law of this country. But by ordering an attack on one lakh people, she proved that she does not love the people (of this country)."
The yoga guru claimed that Sonia's party abused patriotic people as thugs, killers and terrorists.
Wearing an embroidered kurta, he looked dazed and angry, and was in a contemplative mood before the press conference started. He gave a vivid account of what happened at the Ramleela maidan and blamed Sonia and the United Progressive Alliance government for his and his followers' plight.
'I didn't want to die in such a barbaric act'
Baba's account was a thrilling one: he admittedly played hide and seek with the 5,000-strong police force for almost two hours (from around 2 am to 4 am) after they had surrounded the grounds.
Baba said when the police came looking for him, he was asleep. "If we hadn't calmed our supporters on the night of June 4, thousands of people would have died. Such kind of cruelty was not even seen during the Emergency or the Jallianwala Bagh massacre," he said.
He added, "I am not scared of death. But, I didn't want to die in such a barbaric act."
'Do you want to kill me or what?'
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
He said he jumped off the stage, and hid for two hours between two awnings that had been erected in the maidan. Then, he mingled in a group of women who were carrying an injured woman out. The Baba covered himself with a sari and covered his beard with a dupatta.
At that point, one of his disciples saw him and exclaimed, "Move quickly, or the police will notice." Unfortunately for him, the police did notice, and nabbed him.
He said while he was being taken away, a cop tightened the dupatta around his neck like a noose. He screamed at the policeman who was holding him: "Do you want to kill me or what?"
Ramdev added that Saturday night was a black night for him. "I kept on telling the policemen not to torture innocent people. Even families and children were not spared, they were dragged and beaten up," he said.
'A betrayal of promises'
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
He gave a different account of what conspired between him and government representatives in Hotel Claridges, New Delhi, on June 3, during negotiations that had lasted for five hours.
He refused to own up that an alleged letter signed by his confidant Acharya Balkrishna, in which the Baba had secretly agreed that his fast would last from June 4-6.
The details of the letter and the agreement between Baba and Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal were kept secret by both sides, until both sides alleged "a betrayal of promises."
But now, the Baba alleges that Sibal forced them to sign it under pressure.
'Kapil Sibal is one of the most scheming minds'
He said from the hotel, Sibal and Union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay kept calling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
They even allegedly threatened him, saying, "If you don't agree to sign the letter then be ready for the consequences."
Baba Ramdev fumed, "Sibal is one of the most scheming minds. He said he wanted the letter from us to convince the prime minister."
"I was told clearly on June 3 that the government cannot bring in an ordinance to declare black money stashed abroad as national assets," he added.
He alleged that this was so to protect the money of those in the government which is allegedly stashed in Mauritius, a tax haven.