What was expected to be a show of unity appears to have left civil society divided.
Sadhvi Ritambhara — accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case — sitting next to Baba Ramdev on the first day of his fast has given the anti-corruption fight a communal colour, a point being debated by those who supported the campaign against black money.
The crack deepened after Anna Hazare seemed non-committal on whether he would join the agitation on Sunday.
“I will go to Delhi tomorrow and discuss what would be the form and direction of the satyagraha,” he said in Pune.
Prashant Bhushan, among the five civil society members on the Lokpal bill drafting committee, expressed his unhappiness at Ritambhara’s presence saying the platform should not be allowed to be used by “communal forces”.
But colleague Santosh Hegde maintained that if Ritambhara wants to fight corruption, “I do not see why she should not be allowed to do that.”
Hazare’s associate Kiran Bedi did not want to be judgemental: “It is Ramdev’s stage, whoever he wants to share it with, is his choice.”
Ramdev, however, reacted sharply to criticism that his campaign was taking on a communal colour.
“People who see communal agenda have lost mental balance...it is wrong to say that I am creating instability...,” he said, noting that clerics from Islam, Jain and Sikh communities were also on stage with him.
The Congress too, for the first time, targeted Ramdev for his friends. “What is Sadhvi Ritambhara doing there,” asked spokesman Abhishek Singhvi, who alleged that “sympathisers of RSS and BJP are supporting this movement”.
“The nation is aghast to see that BJP, RSS and their frontal organisations, which have repeatedly failed to get popular mandate, are trying to destabilise the government,” Singhvi charged.
While CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta surprisingly backed Ramdev’s agitation against black money, Shankaracharya Swarupanand Saraswati slammed the yoga guru for trying to “mislead society”. He advised the yoga guru to first “clean up his own house” as he has a Rs 11000 crore empire.