Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev observe fast against corruption
Warning a fight to finish by August, social activist Anna Hazare and yoga guru Baba Ramdev on Sunday held a day-long fast, their first joint appearance on a public platform in the past one year, against the UPA government on the issue of corruption.
The one-day fast demanding that back black money stashed abroad be brought back and against corruption is also likely to have its echo in the State capitals as well with Ramdev’s Bharat Swabhiman Andolan organising protests.
Before launching their fast, Baba Ramdev said that there will be a fight to finish in August as he is launching a protest programme then. “From today, we are intensifying our protest to bring back black money stashed abroad and want all of the countrymen to be part of the fight to finish by August,” he said.
Hazare said during today’s protest, “We will talk about the course of action and nature of campaigning in the future.”
Baba Ramdev and Hazare separately reached the dharna hotspot Jantar Mantar around 10.10 a.m. on Sunday after visiting the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat. While Baba Ramdev was accompanied by his aide Balakrishna, Mr. Hazare was seen with former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia — prominent members of Team Anna.
Attacking the UPA government and threatening a fight to the finish by August on the issue of black money, Hazare and Ramdev observed fast.
Ramdev began his campaign by issuing a warning to the government and asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to make his Cabinet "corruption-free." "You (the Prime Minister) are an honest person personally. People respect you for that. But you hold the high constitutional post. You have to take care of the political, constitutional and democratic responsibility. "Your personal honesty is not enough. You have to be politically honest too.
You have to keep your Cabinet honest. Then people will respect you (more)," Ramdev told his supporters, who were waiving the tricolour.
Before beginning his fast, he told reporters that he was intensifying the protest to bring back black money stashed away abroad and "I want the countrymen to be part of the fight to finish by August". Ramdev also invoked the name of Rajiv Gandhi saying when the former prime minister talked about only 15 paise out of a rupee reaching the beneficiaries, it was "ideal" but "when we talk about it, then we are called "khalnayaks (villains)".
Meanwhile, minister of state for parliamentary affairs Harish Rawat said Team Anna and Ramdev were free to voice their concern against corruption but they cannot be allowed to "destroy" the existing institutions to tackle graft. "They have full freedom to voice concern against corruption. But Anna Hazare and Ramdev should understand that in the name of fighting corruption, if they want to destroy the existing institutions, the country will not accept it...," he told reporters.
In his address, Ramdev claimed that FDI worth Rs 20 lakh crore held the "key" to people involved in stashing away black money abroad. "If the government names the actual investors of FDI, the puzzle with regard to black money will be solved," he said in an apparent reference to Foreign Institution Investors (FII), which can allegedly be used by people to stash away black money.
Meanwhile, denying reports that he left the fast venue after Baba Ramdev snubbed him, Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said that he had to leave as he was unwell and he has the “greatest respect” for the yoga guru. “I had to leave fast venue bcoz I am v(ery) unwell. I told this to Anna and swamiji. It is wrong to say that I left in protest,” Kejriwal said in a tweet. “I have greatest respect for swamiji,” he tweeted.
He said he would convince the yoga guru about the importance of taking names and demand action against corrupt people. “This is a political battle and we will have to name and shame and demand severe action against corrupt people,” he said in his tweet. “I will personally speak to Swami Ramdev ji. I am sure I will be able to persuade him that naming is important,” he said.
Earlier, Baba Ramdev disapproved of Kejriwal’s comments against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other politicians during his fast along with Hazare saying he was against personal criticism. Soon after Mr. Kejriwal, who was on fast along with Mr. Hazare and Baba Ramdev, finished his speech, the yoga guru took the microphone and said “Today, we thought that we will not take anybody’s name. But Arvind took the names”. During his speech, Kejriwal attacked Dr. Singh and his Cabinet colleagues whom the Team Anna had accused of indulging in corruption.
- Asian Tribune -