Give it to the Baba. He knows how to raise a racket. Last year, he had to beat an unceremonious retreat after the police played spoilsport at Ramlila Maidan. This time, he has proved a point. What point? One might ask, but let the question pass. To his credit, he even managed to get BSP chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh to speak against black money and corruption. Of course, he had the whole of the NDA and a few non-NDA, non-UPA parties speaking for him. That’s quite a feat.
It’s interesting to note that the same set of parties were desperately cooking up ways to block the passage of the Lokpal Bill in Parliament a few months ago. They were also crying themselves hoarse over Team Anna’s aggressive, arm-twisting ways, asserting with great righteous outrage that laws could be made in Parliament only, not at places like Jantar Mantar. What makes Baba Ramdev so popular among politicians? Well, he certainly is more tactful than members of Team Anna and more of an entertainer. And yes, he poses a threat to none, not even the Congress against whom he declared war today.
Hell hath no fury like a Baba scorned. The Congress has to pay the price for being dismissive of the yoga guru. The slight was a bit too much this time. Last year, it had directed four ministers to receive him at the airport and treated him as royalty. This time it did not even bother to engage him in talks. “We are not going to sit silently. The activists will educate the country about this movement. The Congress party should be boycotted,” Ramdev said while giving the “Congress hatao, desh bachao” (remove Congress, save the country) call.
Nobody would shed a tear if the UPA 2 goes and the Congress gets wiped out. Both are well beyond their sell-by date. The Congress is already hurtling towards an ignominious marginalisation in national politics. The Baba wants to be the man who gave it the push over the edge. So far so good. All good luck to him. He has the stamina. Someone who can talk non-stop for so long without making too much sense deserves all the luck and the glory. If it were a movie, they would title it ‘Revenge of the Baba’ or ‘Baba Returns’ or the less imaginative ‘Angry Babas of Haridwar’.
He is giving it back to the Delhi Police too, the agency which forced him to get into that rather embarrassing crossdress act last time. As this piece is being written, Baba Ramdev has refused to vacate Ambedkar stadium where he has been lodged by the police. He has threatened to go on fast if the police did not arrange food for his 10,000 followers. For a people accustomed to dishing out gaalis and lathi attacks, this is humiliating indeed. We don’t know whether there would be sweets on the menu but as revenges go, this must be sweet revenges are all about.
What next for him now that he has proved his crowd-gathering power? Will he be fighting the BJP’s battle against the Congress before the next elections? Or, will he play the neutral social-spiritual reformer working for the upliftment of society, a catalyst in social change? The Baba seems to have his plan of action ready. He made clear as much in Delhi today. He would take up both the roles, maybe the first one will be a silent one just to maintain the facade of political neutrality. To begin with, he could be better off asking his supporters to stop indulging in corruption and creating black money. It would be a far greater service to the country than throwing the UPA out of power.
Whatever the Baba’s game plan, he has proved a point to the government and to everyone else. Please don’t ask what point has he made. It’s a bit confusing.