Millennium Post

Ramdev's bandwagon rolls on

In a planned and orchestrated move, the BJP and its partners in the National Democratic Alliance jumped on to the Baba Ramdev bandwagon to synchronise with the Monsoon Session of Parliament. They were able to use Ramdev’s Yadav identity of Haryana vintage and get Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sharad Yadav on the Ramlila Maidan stage, but will the two Yadav leaders bother to show camaraderie with the BJP and Ramdev for long, except to catch eyeballs and make some brownie points while the iron is hot?

Even as Ramdev has announced his clear political colours, he realizes that he cannot fast indefinitely as he broke down in ten days last time around. He might think up plans to revive his agitation every now and then but he realises that it is difficult to mobilise tens of thousands of people for too long at a stretch. But will Delhi remain an open arena for his shows? He might have braved rain and shine and humid weather, but that takes its own toll and feeding the supporters – tons of ghee, flour, dals and veggies and cooking the feast – is a tall order in terms of cost and effort. The shopkeepers of Delhi and the RSS are unlikely to underwrite the expense and labour as Ramdev and company plan repeat performances for two years to come.

Also, will the law enforcement agencies permit future protests with every session of Parliament? The logistics for the protesters and the administration – are they easy? Perhaps not so. Will the issue of black money hold ground for long? Will there be counter-protests by the Opposition in Karnataka where the Bellary mine lords, the Reddy Brothers of the Yeddyurappa vintage are reported to have robbed the State of Rs 50,000 crores in taxes and revenues? Will Jaganmohan Reddy of Andhra, whose father was the patron saint of illegal miners, and whose son allegedly raked in a fortune of Rs 100,000 crores, have the guts to join hands with the Opposition at the national level?

The Swiss government has told India that its banks have only $2 billion in accounts held by Indians and they are in the process of sharing the information about them with India. Ramdev might continue to harp on black money stashed in tax havens overseas worth billions upon billions, but is it possible for a government of any dispensation to track it down and bring it back? That is not the question? For Ramdev, it is to go on harping on the theme and make political capital.

Will the new finance minister come up with a new scheme of disclosure of unaccounted money, as he did in the late 1990s in a different government when it was called a dream budget? That dream budget yielded disclose of Rs 10,000 crores and taxes of possibly Rs 3,000 crores? It might have been some money at that time, but today a disclosure of Rs 1,00,000 crores entailing no penalties but just payable tax might be hard to achieve and net taxes of Rs 30,000 crores. These figures reveal the impact of the galloping inflation.

Has Ramdev temporarily or permanently broken off ties with the likes of Arvind Kejriwal or is that another game about joining hands at the opportune time? The irrepressible Kejriwal is unlikely to stay away from the Ramdev camp for long because both don’t believe in moderation, but an excess of words and love to be loud. Kejriwal has announced that his political outfit, whenever it takes shape, will not enter the election fray in Gujarat or any BJP-ruled State, but his eyes are set on the Delhi and Haryana Assembly elections. Kiran Bedi appears to be out of the Kejriwal loop; so she has jumped onto the Ramdev Ramlila.

At another level, the RSS has been quick to denounce Narendra Modi, the chosen showpiece of the BJP for the 2014 elections, and projected Nitish Kumar instead as a better leader at the national level. Narendra Modi is the man who did not give room to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and kept one of its mascots, Togadia, out of Gujarat and has been in the eye of the storm with many RSS and BJP leaders. But all this could well be a cover for the ultimate projection of Nitin Gadkari as the RSS’s chosen leader to saffron outfits whether they could win or lose future elections.

Lalit Sethi is a senior journalist.
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