Yoga guru Ramdev on Monday shed his seemingly political neutrality as he wrapped up his five-day fast that was supposed to press the government to bring back black money from abroad and curb corruption.
Baba Ramdev after being detained by Delhi Police.
As he lent a distinct anti-Congress colour to his cry against sleaze in high places, he was boosted by the surprise presence of BJP president Nitin Gadkari, JDU chief Sharad Yadav and representatives of the Akali Dal and Telugu Desam Party on the stage.
As they backed him to the hilt, Ramdev did not mince words in calling for an enhanced "Congress hatao, desh bachao" stir.
Baba Ramdev is detained by a policeman during his march to Parliament. HT/Virendra Singh Gosain
"This protest is to ensure that no dishonest person enters Parliament."
Ramdev did not hide his ire at the government for not responding to him in the course of the day.
"The government has become completely deaf. Now our protest will be outside Parliament," he told his supporters in the morning.
Subsequently, he managed a huge show while marching towards Parliament.
Unlike last year, when police action, which led to the death of a participant, broke up his show, the government sought to handle Ramdev and his supporters with tact.
Ramdev's call asking the public to fight corruption and the Congress for its alleged ambivalence towards graft appeared to draw support from Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party head Mayawati, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik.
Ramdev's stir also had its echo in Parliament, where neither house could transact business, and both were adjourned for the day as opposition MPs stalled the proceedings.
Earlier, Gadkari and Sharad Yadav, who shared the dais with Ramdev, attacked the Congress and asked the people to throw out the UPA government, accusing it of not acting against corruption and black money.
Gadkari told Ramdev the BJP would stand "fully behind him" in his agitation.
On its part, the Congress came out strongly against Ramdev, saying the yoga guru was fighting a political battle in the name of campaigning against black money. Congress slams Ramdev
"The mask has come off ... His real face has been exposed," party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.
Government sources also ruled out any negotiations with Ramdev.
"Why should we talk to him? What is there to talk," asked a senior minister.