This is the one thing that’s almost cute about Baba Ramdev. He is brazen in his demands for different standards to be applied to him than to politicians! Slapped with a tax fraud case, he is officially saying that if there has been some mistakes made by his flunkees, then he is willing to correct the same. Who isn’t when caught?! His TV interview last night and the defence put up by his friend Dr Vedic was quite a comedy show!
To be fair, Ramdev isn’t the only one who has sought a different standard for himself. Before him, all of Team Anna wanted a much more relaxed, a much less punishing, standard to be applied to them than to the ministers they were accusing. Kejriwal thought that not paying back his dues to the government in spite of several reminders was explainable on grounds of some difference of opinion (and of course political vendetta!). And Kiran Bedi found nothing wrong when she abused her political connections to secure admission for her daughter. And so on and so forth. Team Anna was full of double standards. Demanding an SIT on the one hand when it accused the ministers of corruption; but being much more lenient on its own members.
But other aspects in the interview with Ramdev and his friend Vedic were even more funny. For example, Vedic claimed that these charges were being made by the Government, not by some “neutral” body! How interesting….does he expect tax claims to be filed by some neutral body? Maybe some civil society members? Maybe retired General Singh? Or maybe his favorite political party? Who runs the tax administration in the country? The government or some neutral body?!
And then the defence that Ramdev didn’t meet all devotees himself and if some people had donated monies “down the line” (my words, not his), then he couldn’t be held responsible! How convenient. What about “moral responsibility” – the albatross that is permanently strung around ministers? Shouldn’t Baba Ramdev also “resign” on the same grounds – even though there is nowhere he can resign from. Maybe what he can resign from is issuing brazenly self-serving statements when he criticizes the Income Tax action against him?
It is quite clear that Baba Ramdev is a shrewd one. There is at least some chance that his entire struggle against the Government (and it was that; nothing else) was more “pre-emptive” in nature than anything else. Pre-emptive since he knew the Income Tax action was coming; he knew all the “kaands” (scams) that he was involved him. What better way to ward off trouble than by portraying himself as the victim of a vicious government attack. The hunger strike; the fight against black money; were all just veils of deceit. What else can this all be? How come a yoga guru suddenly gains interest in black money of which he stands accused himself as a beneficiary, if it wasn’t to save his own skin?
But like I said, Ramdev is brazen if nothing else. Unlike his other civil society brethren, he has no qualms in portraying himself as an extension of the Hindutva brigade. He is proud of his saffron clothes; and more importantly his saffron ideology. But the same cannot be said of the BJP. The story in the Indian Express yesterday is revealing (“At center of stirs against graft, a body with RSS links, ex babus”). Amongst other things, the article suggests that an “anti corruption front” was formed by members of the RSS (S Gurumurthy, Govindacharya etc) as well as other BJP sympathizers (Prof Vaidyanathan of IIM Bangalore who co-authored a BJP task force’s report on black money alon with Doval (former Director of IB) and Vedic (Ramdev’s friend). Now let me be candid here. There is nothing wrong in the RSS/BJP forming an anti-corruption movement (except that it’s a little funny given the corruption record of the political outfit!). What is wrong is that the movements were never publicly declared by the RSS/BJP as theirs. They preferred to hide behind the persona of Anna and Ramdev – wishing to earn the rewards by deceit.
Ramdev on the other hand has no such qualms. After an initial period of “I am apolitical. I am willing to talk to all politicians including from the Congress”, the gloves came off. The target was clearly the UPA. Very soon, there was Nitin Gadkari and Ram Jethmalani on the stage doing what they do best. Attacking the UPA, while not deigning it important to answer the allegations against themselves). Earlier newspaper reports also suggest that Ramdev himself was unable to draw the crowds – and made an SOS call to the BJP. So if Ramdev is nothing but a prop of the BJP/RSS, why deny it? Why not play a fair political game? Why not take on the UPA openly? Why all this subterfuge and deceit?
I also like the defence put up by Vedic that “these were just charges. They were not proved yet” as if the charges that Team Anna and Ramdev made against the ministers were proven (unless they took a particular TV anchor to be the judge cum Lokpal!). I also found it interesting that the government was “being vindictive” while Team Anna and Ramdev were not so; both were just nationalists concerned with the country! And lastly that Ramdev was willing to make amends; while a similar chance can never be given to politicians!
The real truth is that the UPA has been attacked by the NDA and there is nothing wrong with that at all. Only that this has not been well known till now. Now it is getting clear. Team Anna and Ramdev are nothing but BJP props. Their relationship may be strong and times and wobbly at times, but it is clear that the BJP is using them as part of a political strategy. How the UPA responds to this political strategy remains to be seen….