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Yoga or politics? Poll panel tunes in to Ramdev camps

Neelam Pandey, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 10, 2013
First Published: 00:22 IST(10/10/2013) | Last Updated: 00:44 IST(10/10/2013)

The Delhi election commission is keeping a close eye on Ramdev’s yoga camps, which started in the Capital on Wednesday, after the Delhi Congress complained that they were being used to promote the BJP.

The commission has ordered video recording of the yoga camps — planned at several places across the city — and will have its officials present at the venues to make sure that the camps are not used for political purposes.

“We have asked our officials to record the entire event. No one will be allowed to make any political speeches,” said Vijay Dev, chief electoral officer.

The commission has said it will withdraw permission for the camps if any violation is found.

The first yoga camp was held in east Delhi’s Shastri Park.  A similar camp will take place in Dwarka on Thursday, and another one will be held in Surajmal Stadium in Nangloi on Friday. Apart from this, ‘Yoga Shiksha’ meetings have also been planned.

BJP workers have been publicising the camps and recorded phone calls are being made to people asking them to join in large numbers. Residents of Narela constituency have been getting such calls from BJP’s Neeldaman Khatri, former district president of Narela. 

Fearing that the camps would be used by Ramdev to promote the BJP, the Delhi Congress had complained to the commission. “One of the camps was to be organised in my constituency and I saw it was being advertised as a political rally by the BJP. Hence I filed a complaint and I’m happy with the decision of the commission,” said Naresh Kumar,  former general secretary of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee..

Ramdev’s spokesperson SK Tijarawala, however, said that it was the right of every citizen to express their views on corruption and black money: “Ramdev ji is a yoga guru and has a right to preach that. It is not a crime.”

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