New Delhi, (IANS) Yoga guru Baba Ramdev asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ensure honesty in his cabinet and demanded the government bring back black money stashed abroad, at a joint appearance with Anna Hazare here Sunday that saw Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal walk out in a huff.
The first joint appearance by Hazare and Ramdev in months, at the Jantar Mantar that saw thousands of mainly Baba Ramdev supporters in attendance, was marred by open differences cropping up between Team Anna and the yoga guru.
Kejriwal walked out of the event after Ramdev snubbed him for taking names of specific politicians for their alleged involvement in corruption.
Later on, Ramdev tried to paper over differences, saying there could be two ways of putting the same point across. At the end of the day-long fast, Ramdev asserted that they would return again on Aug 9 to launch a larger movement against corruption.
The day-long fast by Ramdev and Hazare was called to mark one year of Ramdev’s last agitation at Ramlila ground, from where he was arrested in the middle of the night between June 3 and 4 last year.
Addressing the huge crowd on a hot and sweltering day, Ramdev reiterated that the government bring back all black money stashed in foreign banks. He said while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was honest, he targeted him for inaction over widespread corruption in his government.
“The prime minister said that ‘I am honest’, but the country does not see you as an individual,” said Ramdev. “The nation respects you for being an honest individual, but you should also be honest politically. The country sees you as the person holding the highest constitutional post. Your personal honesty is not enough… Keep your cabinet honest,” he said.
Kejriwal took the attack a notch further, saying that parliament would never pass the Lokpal bill as long as “MPs like Lalu Prasad, A. Raja and Suresh Kalmadi were present”.
Kejriwal also made a direct attack on the prime minister saying coal block allocations were made to “underwear makers, cassette makers, gutka (tobacco makers)” when the prime minister was looking after the ministry between 2006 and 2009.
This direct attack prompted Ramdev to snub Kejriwal for naming specific politicians.
“…Today, we thought that we will not take anybody’s name. But Arvind took the names,” Ramdev said after Kejriwal had finished his speech, adding that it would attract “unnecessary controversy”.
Kejriwal left the venue soon after being snubbed. He, however, tweeted later that he left because he was not well.
Ramdev later tried to paper over the differences. “We had decided on the protocol of not taking names of individuals so that the focus is not diverted from main issues of corruption and black money,” Ramdev told people at Jantar Mantar in the evening.
“But there could be two ways of putting the same point,” said Ramdev playing down differences with Kejriwal.
The show at Jantar Mantar seemed more like a Ramdev show. ‘Anna caps’ were missing, as were reverberations of Anna Hazare slogans. An array of life-size posters of Ramdev could be seen at the venue. Pictures of Rajbala, a 51-year-old woman who died after being injured during the alleged police action on Ramdev supporters at the Ramlila ground agitation last year, were on display.
The Congress was quick to rubbish allegations against Manmohan Singh in coal block allocation and accused Ramdev and Team Anna of pro-BJP bias. Congress spokesperson Raashid Alvi said the allegations were “baseless” and while names of leaders of several parties were taken in context of corruption, none of them were from the BJP.
Taking a dig at the joint fast by Hazare and Ramdev, Samajwadi Party leader Shahid Siddiqui said their alliance would “not yield any result”.
Union Minister of State for Agriculture Harish Rawat said the activists, in the name of fighting corruption, were destroying democratic institutions. “In the name of fighting corruption they want to destroy all institutions. It will not be accepted,” Rawat said.