Fast and Fiasco in Ramleela Ground : Who Gains and Who Loses

After success of Anna Hazare in wresting a commitment from government to constitute a lokpal bill drafting committee, yog teacher baba Ramdev announced to go into fast in Ramleela ground in Delhi from 4th June, 2011. Baba demanded that government should get back black money stashed in foreign banks, give death penalty for corruption, remove high denomination currency notes in the amount of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000, make compulsory use of Hindi in place of English among others. Baba’s demands ranged from sublime to ridiculous. Ramlila ground was spruced up with airconditioner, coolers, ICU etc for baba’s fast as well for comfortable stay of his supporters.
Baba’s fast was forcibly broken up by police in the wee hours of 5th June, 2011 Sunday. Baba Ramdev jumped among women. He was wearing ladies clothing when he tried to flee. Baba was arrested walking away from Ramleela ground with two female devotees. His flowing beard was covered in a ladies dupatta.
There are several aspects to the events that unfolded subsequently. Firstly there was nation wide condemnation of government action on peacefully fasting people, many of them women and ageing. Certain people compared events at Ramleela ground to Jalianwalabagh. Sad as it is, I think police did not use brute force. Yes there was television footage of lathi charge. But this happened because baba was hiding among women and his supporters started pelting stone. Should baba not have courted arrest to protect his supporters from police lathi. As a leader why did he try to flee? He did not do any crime. Or did he? Baba compares himself to Shivaji. Shivaji never shown his back to Mughals. My respect for baba would have increase manifold and he would be my hero, if baba had courted arrest.

What is effect of baba on national politics? Baba arrived in Delhi in a private jet. Baba had support of Sangh Parivar and BJP. It is worth noting that BJP had felt left out of Anna Hazare movement because at least on the face of it Anna movement was apolitical. Although it can be argued that Prashant Bhushan who fights for Maoists, has ultraleft leaning. Anna was also force to retract his praise of Narendra Modi, poster boy of right. Sadhvi Ritambhara, a virulent ultraright had shared stage with baba Ramdev. Although Anna Hazare tried to justify Sadhvi’s place on the dais for the common cause of fighting corruption, relationship was tenuous. Both left and right had gone into high gear asking government to explain and if possible resign for attacking innocent citizens. I think BJP has got an issue to fight government. BJP will definietly keep the pot boiling till next election or next issue.

A question that emerges is why did baba decided to go on fast now? Baba had single handedly managed to take attention away from lokpal bill drafting. Baba’s timing was awful given an effort was being made to draft a lokpal bill. Fast of baba will give government oppurtunity to drive a wedge between Anna and Baba camp and buy more time. What was the hurry to have a fast? Was someone else is fishing in troubled water? Who can this be? We know attempt had been made to sully the image of Bhushan’s earlier. The major beneficiary of a failed bill, are politicians of different hue. May be they have come under one disruptive umbrella to protect their own interest. Or is it a party that is searching new oppurtunities to project as saviour of people that have propped baba up?

Real tragedy happened to Rajbala who has become paralysed for life. Had baba surrendered to police probably Rajbala would still be walking. After Rajbala, next casualty is jan lokpal bill and Indian people. As scam after scam surfaced, people of India are feeling that government is unable to tackle corruption. To the extent, PM has said he has no magic wand to remove corruption. I think lokpal bill is the answer. There has to be accountability. Baba has damaged our cause.

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