For the crowd, Baba a better bet than Anna
In June 2011, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev was chased out of Ramlila Ground by the police, bundled out in a chopper and sent back to Haridwar. The Baba, who had to make an unceremonious exit out of the protest venue in a woman's salwar suit, is back. This time with a vengeance. HT reportsdelhi Updated: Aug 10, 2012 00:22 IST
In June 2011, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev was chased out of Ramlila Ground by the police, bundled out in a chopper and sent back to Haridwar.
The Baba, who had to make an unceremonious exit out of the protest venue in a woman's salwar suit, is back. This time with a vengeance.
Even as Team Anna had to call the Gandhian himself to gather some semblance of a crowd at their recently-concluded fast at Jantar Mantar, Ramdev was cheered by around 40,000 supporters when he returned to the Ramlila Maidan on Thursday to resume his protest against black money.
However, the police claimed the gathering did not exceed 25,000.
Before reaching the protest venue, Ramdev visited Raj Ghat and Shahidi Park soon after reaching Delhi from Gujarat, where he had been camping for the past three days.
With no celebrities turning up on day one, Ramdev managed the show by himself.
Waterproof tents have been erected at the Ramlila Maidan and there is a special enclosure for VVIP guests.
The crowd is expected to swell as it is a long weekend with Janmashtami falling on Friday.
"The gathering could touch 80-90,000 on weekend but most of these people have been brought from Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan as Baba's organisation Patanjali Yogpeeth has very strong following there," said a senior police officer.
Last year, Ramdev's protest garnered around 60,000 people in a day, whereas Anna's fast for Lokpal at the same venue got a maximum crowd of 75,000 in a day.
Kicking off his three-day fast at Ramlila Maidan on Thursday, Ramdev said his protest was not against a political party, but against corruption and black money stashed abroad.
In his marathon 90-minute speech, Ramdev said, "Natural resources worth R20 lakh crore have been looted by the government and all these dealings were done in black money."
He declared that if the government did not listen to the demands within three days, his "peaceful protest will turn into a revolution".
The Delhi Police have given the fast organisers permission till only August 13.
First Published: Aug 10, 2012 00:14 IST