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UP, Bihar leaders scramble to get benefit

delhi Updated: Jun 05, 2011 23:47 IST
Vikas Pathak
Vikas Pathak
Hindustan Times
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The detention of Baba Ramdev and the breaking up of his fast late on Saturday night sparked off immediate reactions from political leaders in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Bihar.

Archrivals UP chief minister Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav condemned the yoga guru's detention and expulsion from Delhi as "undemocratic".

This comes close on the heels of the two parties' support for the government when Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Murli Manohar Joshi had prepared an adverse report in the 2G spectrum case.

Ramdev is known to have a wide following in UP, and belongs to the Yadav caste, which, with an estimated 8.7 % population in the state, is politically one of the most influential castes of the state.

For Mulayam Singh Yadav, supporting Ramdev is for the benefit of his core Yadav base with polls round the corner.

The SP chief said, "The way in which police brutally dealt with Ramdev and his supporters, including women, shows that the UPA government is afraid of him. It's an act against democracy..."

For Mayawati, supporting Ramdev is an act of revenge against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's attacks on her over atrocities in Bhatta-Parsaul, but she will have to factor in the pendency of corruption cases against her before taking a final call on the centre Ramdev row.

"Our party condemns this in strongest terms," Mayawati said in Karnataka. "Our party requests the honourable Supreme Court to order a judicial enquiry or whichever probe it deems necessary."

However, hours after Ramdev announced that he would protest close to Delhi — seen as Noida — he was disallowed entry in Muzaffarnagar by the administration. Ramdev later said he would talk to Mayawati, whom he had thanked for supporting him, and seek her permission to protest in Noida. Officials, however, told HT there was no application yet from Ramdev for a dharna in Noida.

In Bihar, CM Nitish Kumar condemned the Centre action as a "major blow to democracy", while Lalu Prasad hit out at Ramdev, dubbing him a front for the RSS. Lalu took a line against rival Nitish. This is being seen as an oblique bid to reach out to the Congress at a time when Prasad's political fortunes are at rock bottom.

Ironically, Prasad's core base is also Yadav, and he had supported Ramdev years back when CPM leader Brinda Karat had attacked him.

However, with the next Bihar polls still far away, Prasad may want to first appease the Congress.