Ramdev, a kingmaker on the anvil? | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Ramdev, a kingmaker on the anvil?

Right-wing stances are a leitmotif in Ramdev’s positions on issues as far removed as mandatory voting, cross-border migration, the related need for national identity cards and protecting Ganga as a river of national heritage, writes Vinod Sharma.

delhi Updated: Nov 15, 2008 01:00 IST
Vinod Sharma

Is yoga guru Ramdev on his way to becoming a political acharya? A tricky question that finds sporadic answers in his penchant for intervention in prickly public debates.

The saffron-clad baba has often denied harbouring such ambitions but gone on to prove by his political activism the adage — “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”. A case in point is his measured defence of Malegaon blast case accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh with whom he hasn’t had formal introduction.

Right-wing stances are a leitmotif in Ramdev’s positions on issues as far removed as mandatory voting, cross-border migration, the related need for national identity cards and protecting Ganga as a river of national heritage.

Often seen in the company of Hindu groups, he speaks on issues close to their heart — but with the equanimity that sets him apart from the rabble-rousing trishulwalas. He blends modern thought with spiritualism, emotions with issues, self-reliance with swadeshi and sloganeering with simple logic.

“Why is Pragya being put through one narco-test after another. Are the investigators having problems matching the test reports with her statements under duress or torture,” Ramdev asks without the belligerence that’s a VHP-Bajrang Dal trademark. He wonders as to why Muslims involved in terrorist violence aren’t brain mapped or narco-analysed. He saw in the sadhvi’s media trial a repeat of the Kanchi Shankaracharya’s widely publicised arrest on a murder charge.

Is the baba boning up on politics amid Vedic discourses and yoga sessions? His proclivity for courting politicians across power divides — Lalu Yadav, L.K. Advani, Sharad Pawar, Ambumani Ramadoss, Sushilkumar Shinde, Shiela Dikshit — would seem to vindicate the perception.

But his close adviser S.K. Tijarawala is quick to quell the impression. “Ramdevji hasn’t and wouldn’t ever endorse any political party. He talks as a concerned citizen.”

Even Haryana CM B.S. Hooda thinks Ramdev is guided by his Arya Samajist leanings. Not any quest for political power. Founded in 1875 by Dayanand Saraswati, the Samaj propagates the Vedic way of life towards the creation of a noble world.

The Arya Samajist views come out clearly in the proposed ‘Bharat Swabhian’ movement for which Ramdev intends enrolling 25 crore volunteers through his Patanjali Yoga Samitis run by one lakh yoga teachers in 562 districts across India.

“They’ll vote compulsorily and form the core of our movement for a polity free of corruption and hatred based on caste, religion, language or region,” explained Ramdev. “We don’t want to seize power; we want to lend it to strong, selfless leaders.”

A kingmaker on the anvil?