Four ministers woo Ramdev, but he won't call off fast
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, human resource development minister Kapil Sibal, Parliamentary affairs minister P K Bansal and tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahay hold talks with yoga guru. Cabinet secretary too joins talks. But Ramdev says he will begin his fast from June 4. Nervous UPA placates RamdevUpdated: Jun 01, 2011, 19:45 IST
Rejecting pleas of four central ministers, led by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, who met him at the Delhi airport on Wednesday, yoga guru Baba Ramdev said he will go ahead with his planned fast in New Delhi against corruption and black money stashed abroad.
"The agitation from June 4 will spread from Delhi's Ramlila Maidan to 624 districts in the country and, on the first day itself, more than one crore people will fast and participate in the atyagraha," Ramdev told reporters at the airport after meeting the ministers for nearly two and a half hours.
Besides Mukherjee, human resource development minister Kapil Sibal, Parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kuman Bansal and tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahay met Ramdev at the airport. Top officials led by cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar also took part in the meeting.
Ramdev said the first round of talks with the government was "positive", adding that more rounds were likely.
Earlier, Sibal said Ramdev raised "very important" issues during the talks.
"We (UPA ministers) met Baba Ramdev just after 1pm...the conversation was carried on for almost two and a half hours. During the conversation, Swami Ramdevji raised a broad range of very important and significant national issues," Sibal said.
"We listened to him. We also prima facie responded to him and we will meet each other and have another dialogue in the next couple of days," he said.
"I am sure that as we are a responsive government, we will take (up) all those issues which were raised and this is all I have to say as of now," Sibal added.
The initial plan was for Mukherjee to meet Ramdev at the finance minister's North Block office. However, he rushed to the airport to meet the yoga guru, who arrived around noon from Madhya Pradesh.
Activists supporting Ramdev's movement said there was "no plan as of now" to drop the fast to be staged at the spacious Ramlila Maidan in the national capital.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent a letter to Baba Ramdev on Tuesday evening, urging him to call off the fast.
The yoga guru announced his fast, demanding urgent government action to recover the black money stashed away in foreign banks.
Meanwhile, hectic preparations were in progress at the Ramlila Maidan for the fast starting on Saturday. A huge tent to accommodate 20,000 people was also being put up at the site on Wednesday.