Days after social activist Anna Hazare disbanded his anti-graft team and hinted that his agitation would provide a political alternative, yoga guru Ramdev sought to fill the void at Ramlila Maidan on Thursday.
Bringing back black money from abroad — Ramdev's battle cry till now — did remain a key issue, but added to that were demands for a strong lokpal, a public service guarantee act and changes in the procedure for appointing the CAG, CVC, CBI director and election commissioners.
"The fight for lokpal has not ended, and we'll take it forward," Ramdev said. "We are with Anna's social agenda, but not with the team… we will not trigger controversy."
Drawing an impressive crowd, Ramdev announced a three-day fast, after which he would decide his next strategy. Observers feel the yoga guru wants to make the best of the extended weekend beginning Friday — Janmashtami day — to mobilise a huge gathering.
There was also a clear attempt at getting Muslims into the fold. The fast venue will have an iftaar each evening as the Ramzan month is going on.
While maintaining that he had no political ambition, Ramdev invited all parties and members of Parliament to join his fast.
The yoga guru also had a message for Congress president Sonia Gandhi: Talks with the establishment can begin now.
"Somebody in power is saying they are ready to talk to us. I am telling Sonia Gandhi that our doors are also open for dialogue," he said, referring to minister of state for agriculture Harish Rawat's statement that the government was ready to talk to Ramdev.
But law minister Salman Khurshid made light of Ramdev's protest. "Ramlila takes place every year. Similarly, people have different opinions that they display regularly."