New Delhi: Baba Ramdev
's version of 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' continues to yield
impressive results. He visited two national leaders on Thursday -
first, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh and then Sharad Yadav, the
convenor of the BJP-led coalition, the NDA.
Both said they support his
campaign for a concerted push to recover black money or undeclared
income that Indians have parked in foreign bank accounts.
"The government says we cannot send an army to recover black money from outside the country. We don't want that - we want the government to take concrete steps," the yoga guru said.
For the Congress, this has got to hurt. Despite its animosity with Baba Ramdev
, its political partners in the coalition that it leads at the Centre are meeting the yoga icon and expressing support for his cause. Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, who heads the RLD party, was the second. Earlier this week, another member of the ruling coalition, Sharad Pawar, had given the swami his time and an awkward hug.
Like Mr Pawar, the Civil Aviation Minister said the Baba's campaign is not political - he wants urgent efforts to recover black money or undeclared income funnelled into foreign accounts. "Babaji is making the people aware of the problem of black money. It is not the question of a party," he said.
So far, the Congress has refused to grant time to the yoga icon. He says his wish-list includes sessions with both Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister. "When I meet Sonia ji, I'll talk of everything from Bofors to Coal-gate," he said on Thursday evening, referring to two scandals - past and present - that cast huge shadows on the government.
Baba Ramdev has also been wooing the BJP. His first stop, in fact, this week, was at the home of Nitin Gadkari, the BJP president, who touched the swami's feet in a show of deference. Mr Yadav, who the yoga guru met today, heads the Janata Dal (United), which allies with the BJP. Mr Yadav said his party supports Baba Ramdev's campaign. "We will take it up in Parliament," he said.
The Baba's one-on-ones with leaders like Mr Pawar are likely to distress Anna Hazare and his team of activists, with who the Baba is partnering, not entirely seamlessly, in the campaign against corruption.
Team Anna has made serious accusations of corruption, for example, against Mr Pawar, and may have been uneasy with Baba Ramdev's meeting with him. "I am not here to give anyone a character certificate," the Baba clarified today, adding "I am here to build consensus."
But what both Team Anna and Baba Ramdev seem to know is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, perhaps why they may be willing to face the awkward moments of discomfort to cash in on their combined strength.