Baba's 'cocktail - remedy' losing fizz?

He’s brought yoga into his life and home. At 60, the retired Army officer says he’s, perhaps, as healthy and fit as he was as a young officer. His wife, Kavita, he says, looks younger and prettier like never before. And all this, the couple vouches, has a lot to do with Baba Ramdev.

Loads of voices against the yoga guru are inconsequential for many like Kavita and her husband. Ramdev’s sprawling 1000-acre campus, just about 20-minutes drive from their residence in Roorkey (Uttarakhand) is an extension of their house. On weekends, the couple along with friends and family make it a point to lunch at ‘Annapurna’, the clean hygienic restaurant inside the campus, serving pure sumptuous vegetarian food at low prices. Curry-Chawal and lassi is a hot favourite. Close to 1000 people each day eat food at dirt cheap rates, some served free of cost, in Patanjali Yogpeeth canteen.

In house patients, some like Ramesh Kumar, are on the path of recovery and have good reason to believe in Ramdev. There are others who are there to trim down their belly, ardently working on slimming plans. “Hasn’t he created a national asset here. Yoga has been there since centuries, but its Baba who’s brought Yoga into every house. Is it not good that people are increasingly looking at Ayurveda as a lasting alternative medicine,” Sudhanshu Goel, who runs a mobile communication business in Roorkey, asserted.   

Baba’s flourishing trade and trust properties, about 23 km from the holy city of Haridwar, have been one of the major contributors, arguably the sole factor, to escalating real estate prices in and around the Ganga township. A multi-crore water park, amusement park, has come up just opposite to Ramdev’s mansion Patanjali Yogpeeth and records thousands of footfalls each day, every single entry ticket priced at a high Rs 300. Housing projects in and around the Yogpeeth are in plenty. Dozens of star rated hotels that have come up in close proximity are cashing in on Brand Ramdev.

Post the fiasco at Ramlila ground in New Delhi, things have started to change. The next door water park is probably drawing much more numbers these days than at Baba’s Yogpeeth. Ramdev’s ground support and that too on his home turf has plunged drastically, even Baba Ramdev could well count the number of visitors trickling in for his support in sweltering heat. Many now question Ramdev’s “cocktail remedy to anti-corruption and black money” - mixing philanthropic work with political ambitions.

Ramdev’s political lineage is now no secret, given the host of saffron party leaders, including Sushma Swaraj, visiting Ramdev to pledge support. Sohan Bhardwaj is concerned if Baba has undone a lot of doing, post his tirade against black money, and off course the Congress-led government at the Centre.

Visuals of Baba sneaking out of the Ramlila ground in salwaar kameez, leaving behind scores of his followers, have upset even his followers. Sohan said, “His close aides have questionable authenticity. The assets are under the scanner. Ramdev set a poor example fleeing the scene after Delhi cops swooped down,” Sohan said.    
The holy city of Haridwar is testimony to several fasting chapters in the recent past, many of which have ended in loss of hundreds of crores of rupees to the nation. Former IIT Kanpur Professor and environmentalist G D Agarwal sat on fast-unto-death in a Haridwar ashram  last year in September for close to 39-days. His demand was met and forced the Union government  to scrap the 600 MW hydro-power project on Ganga that was being commissioned by power major NTPC close to the river source.

A stage had come when Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh was at his doorstep begging of him to give up his fast-unto-death. Agarwal was the first Member Secretary of Central Pollution Control Board and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Agarwal had argued that the hydel project would cease the existence of the Ganga once blocked and pushed into tunnels and dwindle faith of the people. Not just this, the Uttarakhand government had to scrap two other major power projects in the state owing to similar concerns and protests by way of fasting.


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