Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday sought to put the record straight and douse criticism by asserting that four ministers had gone to Delhi airport “not to receive” Ramdev but to talk to him there before he entered the Capital.
In an interaction with editors, the prime minister also said that he had met Hazare in March and assured him of his government's commitment to bring lokpal bill in the monsoon session of Parliament which then would decide whether to pass it or amend it.
However, within two or three days he found that "there were other forces" controlling Hazare, Singh said, alluding to the BJP-RSS.
With his government facing flak for mishandling the Anna Hazare and Ramdev campaigns for a strong lokpal bill and recovery of black money, Singh broke his silence on the issue.
He said it was because of his respect for civil society members that he had taken the trouble of interacting with them. His government had interacted with Ramdev as part of an honest attempt to be receptive to ideas.
The idea was not to create an unnecessary misunderstanding with him, he said.
But when Ramdev is in large crowd "that has an effect on him," Singh said, adding "we did not get the impression that he has any intention of honouring what he said."
The midnight police action against Ramdev was unfortunate but he did not see any alternative to it. If action had been taken the next day, there would have been larger crowds, he said.
Asked whether Hazare was naïve or politically motivated, the prime minister said it was not good to question the motives as the government is still in the process of negotiation.
While the government should reach out to civil society, no group can insist that their views 'A to Z' will be the last word on what people need.
Manmohan Singh said his government had interacted with Ramdev as part of an honest attempt to be receptive to ideas.
The idea was not to create an unnecessary misunderstanding with the yoga guru.
The midnight police action against Ramdev was unfortunate but the PM did not see any alternative to it.