New Delhi: Last night's police crackdown on Baba Ramdev is generating much political heat now. Congress president Sonia Gandhi called a meeting of all leaders in-charge of states at her 10, Janpath residence.
The meeting took stock of the political situation in different states and sent out a message from the Centre.
Union Minister Kapil Sibal, who had held negotiations with the Baba, was present at the deliberations. Earlier in the day, Sibal had a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as also Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Besides Mukherjee, the leaders present at the meeting were Home Minister P Chidambaram and Defence Minister A K Antony.
Ahmed Patel, Political secretary to the Congress chief as also party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mukul Wasnik, Birender Singh and Jagdish Tytler were present at the meeting.
Opposition parties as well as religious leaders have slammed the government for the midnight swoop at the Ramlila Ground to evict Yoga icon Baba Ramdev from Delhi. The incident has, in fact, turned a political unifier.
Within 24 hours of the crackdown, the Congress stood isolated, ranged against friends and foes.
"This government has lost the right to rule," BJP president Nitin Gadkari said.
"This incident is extremely barbaric. It's is worse than the medieval ages. People have been beaten up including women and children. I am very hurt and upset," Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said.
The sight of thousands forcibly thrown out of Ramlila Ground turned Baba Ramdev's critics against the government. BJP's key ally Nitish kumar, who kept Narendra Modi out of Bihar, also hit out.
"The Centre owes an explanation on the issue. It is a major blow to democracy and an attack on the democratic rights of the people... it is also an attack on the fundamental rights of the citizens," he said.
Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav also switched his stand.
"The Central government has lost mental balance. Some politicians in Congress do not have the manners how to address someone. They called Ramdev a thug. I think the party president should tell them how to speak in public," he said.
Allies and opponents attacked the Congress for its action against the supporters, but a desperate Congress tried to turn the focus on the Baba.
"This is an unfortunate turn of event. It is an important issue that he has raised but we requested him to confine his observation. There was no permission given, he should have confined it," Pranab Mukherjee said.
Such a build up ahead of the coming Parliament Session is bad news for the Congress and the Prime Minister. The Congress has the option to ignore its opponents. But the party that rules Delhi needs to do something urgent to prove that the crackdown was not a corruption cover-up if it has to survive, what perhaps is, its weakest moment in the 7 years of UPA.
(With PTI inputs)