Pranab Mukherjee justifies crackdown

Pranab Mukherjee justifies crackdown

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee called the police action ‘unfortunate’, but added that the government had to do that as Baba Ramdev had no permission to hold a political agitation in Ramlila Ground. He also added that had Baba stuck to his words, the nocturnal crackdown would not have required.

“This is an unfortunate turn of event. It (the demand for return of black money) is an important issue that he has raised. But we requested him to confine his observation. There was no permission given, he should have confined it,” said Mukherjee, who had on Thursday led a team of four ministers of Union Cabinet to the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi to receive the Yoga Guru and dissuade him from holding the Satyagraha in Ramlila Maidan.

Human Resource Minister Kapil Sibal said that the Government had apprehensions about law and order breakdown in Delhi as Baba Ramdev had collected 50000 people for “political aasan” (manoeuver), although he had sought and given permission for only to hold a yoga camp for a gathering of 5000 only in Ramlila Maidan.

“It was not a yoga platform, but a political platform,” he said, while questioning the presence of Sadhvi Ritambhara, who was accused of having a role in demolition of Babri Mosque in Ayodhya in 1993, by the side of Ramdev in the Maidan.

“Now, it is clear that Ramdev is another face of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh).”

Sibal was one of those who had negotiated with Ramdev on behalf of the government.
“We had accepted all his demands in writing. But Ramdev did not keep up his promise and politicised the issue. He cheated all his supporters,” he said.

Rejecting the BJP’s allegations that the action against Baba Ramdev was reminiscent of the Emergency, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said that the Government had to act as the yoga guru did not see reason. “It was not a crackdown, we had to do it to maintain law and order“.

Sibal said that the ruling Congress and the Government were on the same page on the crackdown on Baba Ramdev and his followers.

Highly-placed sources said that both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were in the loop and gave go-ahead to act against Baba Ramdev.

‘Practical steps’
The decision was taken after all efforts to cajole the yoga guru failed and he refused to accept the “practical steps” advocated by the government on his demand for bringing back black money, according to  sources.

With the number of people swelling by the hour at the protest site, the government was also worried about the possibility of terrorists mingling in the large congregation and triggering an explosion.

Baba Ramdev was given a final chance at around 4 pm on Saturday, when the Government sent a letter stating that actions were being taken by it on his demands against black money and corruption and wanted him to abide by his assurance of calling off the fast.

The yoga guru first wanted an hour’s time, but at around 5 pm announced that his indefinite fast would continue. At this stage, according to the sources, the government felt that there was no use in continuing with the negotiations with Baba Ramdev as he was raising fresh demands and not abiding by his assurance given in writing by his close aide.

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