A day before yoga guru Baba Ramdev was expected to begin his indefinite fast to demand an end to corruption and black money, thousands of people gathered at the Ramlila Ground at the call of their guru on Friday.
Till late evening, 1,800 people at the venue had signed up to join Ramdev in his fast unto death. They came from states as far away as Maharashtra and West Bengal.
Said Shyamal Mahato, 38, a farmer from Bengal’s South Dinajpur district, “I have come here because Baba has said so. Farming is important but this is more important. I have been following Baba for the past five years and now he has given a clarion call.”
On Ramdev's demand for holding entrance exams for professional courses in regional languages, the government said it had already been done in some languages and a panel would look into increasing the number of languages.
Ramdev's list, however, also includes demands the government can’t accept — direct election of the PM or abolition of R500 and R1,000 notes.
But to keep the yoga guru engaged, the government said a committee would be set up to consider his other demands.
With the RSS and BJP backing him , Ramdev tried to reach out to the larger audience. “This is not a political or business agenda and nor do we have any underground agenda. Our agenda is to get black money back.''
As the government's efforts to persuade Ramdev were on, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met President Pratibha Patil and briefed her about the situation.