The fast that Baba Ramdev began on Saturday as his fight against black money and corruption will continue, as an understanding between the Baba and the government remained elusive with both sides talking tough.
The day also saw cracks appearing in the civil society support for Ramdev over Vishva Hindu Parishad leader Sadhvi Ritambhara of the Babri mosque fame joining him. The Hazare camp is now showing signs of hesitation over supporting the Baba unconditionally.
But at the centre of Saturday’s high-voltage drama was a letter written in Hindi by one of Ramdev’s aides on Friday after the five-hour meeting with union ministers Kapil Sibal and Subodh Kant Sahay.
The letter promised that Ramdev would do a ‘tap’ (meditation) till June 6 and would call off his fast on Saturday evening. But the Baba, instead, asked the government on Saturday for a written assurance on a law against black money.
The release that smacked of a deal even before he began his fast had been released when Ramdev stuck to his point. His camp hit back, alleging “betrayal and cheating”. It claimed that the letter was written under pressure -- “likhwaya gaya tha (we were made to write it).”
The yoga guru, who at one point declared that he would call off the fast as the government had accepted his demand on black money, later declared, “Now, I would only talk to the Prime Minister and listen to what he has to say.”
The government claimed it had already committed itself and a committee would go into the issue of framing a law. “We are ready to give it in writing again,” said Sibal at a press conference.
Earlier he met finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P Chidambaram, Sahay, cabinet secretary KM Chandrashekhar and the PM’s principal secretary TKA Nair.
The government, however, is still ready to keep the channels of communication open and will send a letter to Ramdev with a Hindi translation, outlining its plans to set up a committee to frame the law.
"We hope he honours his commitment and ends his fast,” said Sibal. “This government has always reached out, but can also rein in.”
Ramdev reacted fast and called on his followers to join the sit-in in case he was arrested. And he continued to demand an ordinance to declare black money as national asset.
“We want solutions, not committees,” he said, demanding a time frame and constitutional steps to be taken on the issue. But he agreed to dilute his demand for death to the corrupt to life sentence and shelved the one on withdrawing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.