The Congress may have decided not to engage with yoga guru Baba Ramdev as he campaigns against corruption and black money, but other political parties have formed the equivalent of a human chain of support, emphatically announcing in quick succession that they support his cause.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari and Sharad Yadav, who heads the JD(U), visited Baba Ramdev's camp in Delhi this morning, where they gave the all-clear to his motives, declaring that there is no political intent or agenda to his movement. Baba Ramdev wants the government to take exigent steps for the repatriation of thousands of crores of rupees deposited by Indians in secret bank accounts for tax evasion. "You are not alone, guruji," said Mr Gadkari. "All members of the NDA are with you," he added referring to the coalition of political parties led by his BJP. (Read)
As Baba Ramdev was arrested while trying to march towards Parliament from his camp at Ramlila Maidan, in far-away Patna, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar lent his considerable credibility to the Baba's cause. "The issues raised by him are genuine and affect the common man,' Mr Kumar said. "As long as the protest is non-violent, we will support it," he said.
Mr Kumar runs his government in Bihar in partnership with the BJP. His JD(U) is also an important member of the National Democratic Alliance, the coalition led by the BJP. Mr Kumar's relationship with the BJP has been parked in the complicated zone lately, mainly over Mr Kumar's guidelines about what sort of prime ministerial candidate the BJP should select for the 2014 general elections (he has hinted that he will quit the partnership if the BJP picks Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi). So Baba Ramdev has served as a point of consensus.
Baba Radmev's war cry - he asked the public to vote out the Congress for its alleged ambivalence towards corruption - provided opposition parties to hitch their wagon to the buses in which his supporters were led away as they courted arrest at a flyover en route to Parliament.
Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati, leaders of the two major parties in Uttar Pradesh, both said the issue of black money is worth attention and scrutiny. Both leaders have been investigated formally for corruption. "Our party is against black money. Whoever talks about bringing back black money, we will support (him)," said Mr Yadav.
Mayawati, who was voted out as Chief Minister earlier this year, said, "It is the Centre's responsibility to take along all parties and try to find a way to bring back black money and if this money comes back to India, people living below the poverty line will be able to lead a decent life."
Rajiv Shukla retaliated on behalf of the government. The Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs said, "During UPA II, we have recovered Rs. 48,000 crore through the tax notices sent to people. I want to ask if during NDA regime they were able to recover even Rs. 48.
(With Agency Inputs)