Yoga guru Ramdev today gave a fresh endorsement for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a move seen as a U-turn from his position a few months ago. The 53-year-old, who accompanied Union minister Rajyavardhan Rathore as he filed his nomination for the Jaipur Rural Lok Sabha seat, called on people to vote for the BJP in the national elections.
Highlighting the BJP's focus on nationalism and national security, the yoga teacher sought a stronger mandate for PM Modi, whom he once termed his "close friend".
"To make India a world economic and political superpower in next 20-25 years, we have to make Modi stronger. In his hands, the country is safe; the future of our jawans is safe, honour and respect of women is safe and farms of farmers are safe," Ramdev said.
PM Modi is the only one who can protect the nation, Ramdev, said, calling the prime minister "the pride of Bharat Mata".
He also targeted the Congress party over its basic minimum income scheme, NYAY. "Now is the time to punish them. 'Nyay' will happen now at every booth and will be delivered by the public. Voters will do justice now," Ramdev said.
Once a staunch supporter of the ruling BJP, he had distanced himself from the party a few months ago. In September, at NDTV Yuva, a special youth conclave, Ramdev was asked whether he would campaign for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections 2019.
"Why would I?" he had shot back. "I have withdrawn myself politically. I am with all parties and I am with no parties," he said at the conclave that featured celebrities, leaders and influencers.
More recently, Ramdev said it would be difficult to say who will be the next prime minister. The statement, given in December, was seen as a huge rebuff to PM Modi.
Ramdev had supported BJP national election campaign in 2014 and was closely associated with the party. A year later, he was named BJP-ruled Haryana's brand ambassador and granted cabinet minister rank. He was allotted a car with a beacon, security personnel and an escort vehicle whenever he visited the state.
On Tuesday, at the chamber of the Returning Officer, Ramdev asked Mr Rathore to perform pranayam before filing his nomination, saying yoga was necessary for "those who fight battles".