Was Gadkari behind turning protest anti-Cong?
If Ramdev's agitation finally shed its political neutrality, BJP president Nitin Gadkari can claim credit for the turn of events, having struck a chord with him when they met first time two months ago. Shekhar Iyer reports.delhi Updated: Aug 13, 2012 23:46 IST
If Ramdev's agitation finally shed its political neutrality, BJP president Nitin Gadkari can claim credit for the turn of events, having struck a chord with him when they met first time two months ago.
The RSS has also been silently lending support to Ramdev. Its swayamsevaks were told they were 'free' to join anti-corruption agitations.
The BJP's parent body had earlier lent similar support to Anna Hazre in April 2011. But Hazare had refused to acknowledge the Sangh workers' role in the success of his agitation,
resulting in both the BJP and RSS quietly withdrawing their supporters.
On June 4 this year, Ramdev had met Gadari at his residence to seek support for his campaign against black money and corruption. Gadkari, not only pledged his party's backing for him, but also created a flutter by touching the yoga guru's feet to seek his 'blessings'.
However, not everyone in the BJP was comfortable about cosying up with Ramdev, considering his trusts and aides are under scrutiny for alleged financial dealings.
This time, Gadkari defended his action. "Our culture tells us that when a man in saffron clothes visits you, you seek his blessings. I feel proud that I took Ramdev Baba's blessings. It is in our culture." Gadkari also believed that Ramdev's movement will eventually benefit the BJP as the voters will turn to the party to 'vent' their ire against the UPA.
On a day when BJP leaders shared the stage with Ramdev, who called for "Congress hatao, desh bachao" protest, the party explained its position, saying veteran leader LK Advani was the first to make black money a big issue.
"The BJP will give full moral support to Baba Ramdev though we are not part of his movement," said chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad. Asked why it didn't extend the same kind of support to Team Anna days back, Prasad said Ramdev had met Gadkari to invite him, which Team Anna didn't.
He also attacked the Congress for saying that Ramdev's mask was now 'off', saying: "Don't shoot the messenger. Whenever someone raises the issue of black money and corruption, Congress party's comments aren't very civilised."
In August 2011, Gadkari had similarly ruffled weathers in BJP when he had declared that the "BJP would stand behind Anna Hazare". Subsequently, senior BJP leaders had aired their differences with team Anna on the Lokpal issue.
(With inputs from Vikas Pathak)