This Article is From Jun 05, 2011

Stick to yoga not political asanas: Govt on Ramdev

New Delhi: "A swami who teaches yoga to the country should not teach us political asanas (poses)" said Kapil Sibal, one of the two senior ministers who were deputed to make peace for the government with Baba Ramdev.

The Baba was evicted last night from Ramlila Maidan in Delhi, where 65,000 people had joined him for his "satyagraha" against corruption.

The crowd was tear-gassed and lathicharged. "He had permission to run a yoga camp just for 5000 people," said Mr Sibal.

After nearly a week of negotiations which saw the government placating Baba Ramdev to prevent him from starting his indefinite fast, the talks crashed and burned last evening.

Mr Sibal released a letter which had been signed by Baba Ramdev's deputy on Friday in which he pledged that the Baba would end his fast last evening. The letter was handed to Mr Sibal after the Baba met with him and Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay for a five hour counselling session at Delhi's Claridges Hotel.

The letter from the Baba surprised many, suggesting a secret deal had been reached between the Baba and the government as early as Friday evening. But this information was not shared by the Baba, either with other activists who have united to challenge the government on corruption, or with the thousands who showed up to participate in the Baba's yoga-plus-anti-corruption camp on Saturday.

After Mr Sibal shared his letter with the press, the Baba retaliated by calling Mr Sibal a liar and said he would no longer engage with him.

Mr Sibal today justified his decision to release the "secret" letter. "I had said I would go public with it if the Baba did not announce by last evening that the fast would end," he said. Mr Sibal said that the Baba told him on Friday at the Claridges Hotel that he needed all of Saturday to spend with supporters who were expected at his camp from different parts of the country. The Baba allegedly said that if he called off his fast any earlier, his supporters would be let down.

Mr Sibal and others in the government say that before the Baba began his fast, they assured him in writing that his demands for new tough measures to tackle corruption and black money were being taken seriously; several of these had been agreed to, said Mr Sibal.