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Baba-Govt Standoff Worsens As Sibal Leaks Out Letter

New Delhi, Jun 4: Yoga guru Swami Ramdev today began an indefinite fast against blackmoney but by the end of the day he was in a tight corner after government released a letter from his

PTI [ Updated: June 04, 2011 22:00 IST ]
baba govt standoff worsens as sibal leaks out letter
baba govt standoff worsens as sibal leaks out letter

New Delhi, Jun 4: Yoga guru Swami Ramdev today began an indefinite fast against blackmoney but by the end of the day he was in a tight corner after government released a letter from his aide that he would call off the agitation by mid-day.


As talks failed, the two sides blamed each other of having gone back on their commitments and Ramdev accused the government of "betrayal and cheating". Ramdev said his indefinite fast would continue.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal's release of the letter by Acharya Balkrishan, Ramdev's key aide, led to attack by the Yoga Guru that government was indulging in "betrayal and cheating" and that he would now only go by any word from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whom he still respects.

Ramdev announced before the gathering that he would never speak to Kapil Sibal, not even over phone, because he had broken the confidentiality.

A few minutes before this, Baba Ramdev and supporters were dancing to the song of 'Rang De Basanti' as news came that the government had accepted Baba's demands for declaring offshore black money as national asset and steps would be taken to bring stringent law against the corrupt.

Simutaneously, Sibal was showing mediapersons a handwritten note by Bab's trusted aide Acharya Balkrishna in which it was promised that the fast would be called off by Saturday evening. 

As news of the note having been released by Sibal  reached Baba's ears, a furious yoga guru announced on the spot  that he has been subjected to treachery, and he would continue his fast until and unless all the demands were met in writing.

As talks failed, the two sides blamed each other of having gone back on their commitments and Ramdev accused the government of “betrayal and cheating”.

Union Minister Kapil Sibal's release of the letter by Acharya Balkrishan, Ramdev's key aide, led to attack by the Yoga Guru that government was indulging in “betrayal and cheating” and that he would now only go by any word from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whom he still respects.

The dramatic development came as Ramdev first announced that he would be giving the “good news” of ending the agitation but quickly went back on it after Sibal made public the letter at a press conference also attended by another Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahay.

In a stick-and-carrot message, Sibal said that the government has honoured all its commitments and that Ramdev had a mis-apprehension when he questioned the setting up of a committee on making a law to deal with blackmoney menace.

Ruling out issuing an ordinance on the issue, the minister, who held negotiations with Ramdev yesterday, made a veiled threat that the government that has “always reached out can also rein in”.

“If we are accommodative, we can also be firm,” he said adding that negotiations cannot be taken as a sign of weakness.

Taken aback by government's aggression, Ramdev threatened to continue his fast till his three demands—declaring blackmoney as national asset, enacting a law to confiscate blackmoney along with stringent punishment and surveillance on those visiting tax havens abroad.

Ramdev came under severe questioning by media as to why he did not disclose since yesterday that there was an understanding to this effect that he would call off the fast after Government's written assurance on three of his demands.

“You kept the faithful, media and the nation in the dark,” was one of the several questions hurled at an uneasy Ramdev who at one point conceded that the reason that he did not announce the understanding yesterday was because people would have left.

However, he quickly hastened to add that government would show its “thumb” to his movement and do nothing about his demands.

“Kapil Sibal is a liar. I will never talk to him in my life-time,” Ramdev said adding that he still reposed faith in the Prime Minister and would go by his decision.

The sudden turn of events started with Sibal releasing Balkrishan's letter which gave Ramdev's “consent” to call off the agitation once the government gave a written assurance of fulfilling his demands within a time frame.

Replying to a barrage of questions, Ramdev said the letter was given after the ministers “pleaded” that this letter was only meant for Prime Minister to show that his fast was not going to be indefinite and that he was not aiming at destabilising the government.

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