New Delhi: Yoga guru
Baba Ramdev and activist Anna Hazare's day-long fast against
corruption and black money here Sunday was marred by an open rift
with Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal walking out after he was
chided by Ramdev for naming MPs.
Addressing a crowd of thousands, mainly Ramdev followers, who
gathered at the Jantar Mantar on a hot and sultry Sunday, the yoga
guru reiterated his demand that the government bring back all
black money stashed away in foreign banks.
Ramdev launched a direct attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
asking him to ensure honesty in his cabinet.
Taking a dig at the joint fast by the two, Samajwadi Party leader
Shahid Siddiqui said their alliance would "not yield any result",
while the Congress said the repeated attacks on "democratic
institutions" were not "good" for the nation.
Taking on the prime minister, Ramdev said: "The prime minister
said that 'I am honest', but the country does not see you as an
"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".
Ramdev was quick in snubbing Kejriwal for naming MPs, though he
had started the day by attacking the prime minister.
"...today, we thought that we will not take any body's name. But
Arvind took the names," Ramdev said after Kejriwal had finished
his speech, adding that it would attract "unnecessary
Kejriwal left the venue soon after the open snub. He, however,
tweeted later that he left because he was not well.
SP leader Shahid Siddiqui said Anna Hazare and Ramdev were
together because they "need each other's support" and this
alliance "will not lead to any result".
"Ramdev has no reputation, though he has money and even an
entertainment factor. Anna Hazare has a good reputation, but his
group has left him alone. So both are supporting each other
because they need each other, but this will not lead to any
result," Siddiqui said.
The Congress too criticised the sit-in by the Hazare and Ramdev,
and the latter's attacks against the prime minister, saying it was
"not in the favour of the nation."
Union Minister of State for Agriculture Harish Rawat said the
activists, in the name of fighting corruption, were destroying
"In the name of fighting corruption they want to destroy all
institutions. It will not be accepted," Rawat said.
In the morning, before beginning the fast, Ramdev and Hazare
visited Rajghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi. Both sat there in
meditation for a while, and then went to nearby Shahid Park.
The two then along with supporters reached Jantar Mantar around 10
Ramdev, accompanied by his close aide Acharya Balkrishna, also
went to Tikri Kalan village in Delhi's outskirts and paid tributes
to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose at a memorial there.
At Jantar Mantar, 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
Elaborate arrangements were in place for the sit-in at Jantar
Mantar. Besides Delhi Police personnel, 20 companies of
paramilitary forces have been deployed and CCTV cameras installed
to maintain security.
The fast has been 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.