Even the staunch Congress fans couldn’t support the midnight crackdown on Baba Ramdev’s Yog shivir at the Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi on the 5th June. Baba’s campaign against corruption was at least debatable, but the act of the government was absolutely shocking and disgraceful. No wonder, Congress spokespersons remained conspicuously absent from all TV debates for one long day instead of defending their govt.’s act. It may not be a “repeat of Jallianwala Bagh” or “Ravan Leela” but a shameful trick by a frustrated govt.
I will not go back to how the Congress led govt. first tried to use Baba Ramdev to counterbalance Anna’s team. Perhaps when Anna joined hands with Ramdev and chances of Ramdev backing down receded, the government saw its plans foiling. It had to pull out another trick to contain the Baba but the trick seems to have produced opposite results. I don’t think that the plan is over now with just forceful eviction of Ramdev. Most probably, now the government will go after Ramdev and many accusations against the ‘Raj-Yogi’ will surface in the recent future (remember what happened to Bhushans after the successful Anna movement?). The government machineries will now be hell-bent to prove that Ramdev is actually a “thug”. But the problem in front of the ruling alliance is that it has already put its hands in the beehive which, most likely, is going to sting it many times in the future.
The reason is political. There is no doubt (in my mind) that Ramdev’s protest was a politically motivated one (is that wrong by the way?) even if Team Ramdev wanted us to believe otherwise and most probably propped by the RSS and a reluctant BJP. While popular blogger offstumped believes that powering Ramdev and using his fan base may actually help Congress and cut into BJP’s loyal vote base in the north India, the belief is unfounded, I feel. If there is actually a deal between RSS and Team Ramdev, they must have agreed not to weaken the (undeclared) political wing of RSS: the BJP. If BJP supported Ramdev’s cause, then they must have got an assurance from the RSS that Ramdev won’t be a threat in the future rather he would help by creating an anti-congress wind in the poll bound Uttar Pradesh, if not in the north India. After the brutal act on him, Ramdev will now be firmly on the side of the RSS/BJP. The Sangh Parivar has expectedly reciprocated the gesture.
So what’s next? Can Ramdev really bring down UPA-2? Can Ramdev close the doors for the UPA-3? Yes and let me show you how. The biggest power of Ramdev is his religious stardom. India, however modern it becomes, will always have sympathy and respect for its religious leaders. People or institutions taking on religious gurus are not welcome for many in this country. I realized this after I wrote a post criticizing late Satya Sai’s works and methods to garner followers. Even people who are not Sai believers criticized me for writing the article. Neither my family members (again not Sai Bhakts) nor many of my friends were supportive. Close friends and well-wishers suggested me not to write on religious leaders even if they are crooks. And mind you most of these well-wishers were the modern young Indians. So it is a false notion that the modern youth is not religious. Now if a simple post from a relatively unknown blogger like me could provoke such strong reactions, imagine what would be the reaction after harsh govt. action against a very popular Baba Ramdev? And to make matters worse for the UPA, the country saw the Yogi crying on the live television. It won’t be surprising if more undecided fence sitters turn against Congress in next few months.
Another point that may well play in favor of Ramdev is that he was standing against the corruption when “arguably the most corrupt government in Indian history” tried to strike him down. The public anger against the corruption is at all time high at the moment and if an allegedly corrupt government is seen as the force to unsettle movements against corruption, then it won’t be shocking if the anger converts into votes.
This religion and corruption combo is what Ramdev and his backroom managers tried to implement. The same combo will now be handy to dismantle the Congress plans for 2014. Congress has thrived because of its wide rural support. And Ramdev can erode the same rural support base what the urban favorite BJP can’t. The public in rural areas don’t go to details, they don’t take interest to know if Ramdev had a solution (to finish corruption or to bring black money back) or not. The message they will get after this incident is that the sitting government tried to shut the voice of their favorite religious leader who dared to speak against the misdeeds of the people in power. Can you hear the death knell?