Night swoop after Baba broke script
The government and Baba Ramdev had agreed on a script to withdraw the agitation he had started. It entailed the government appearing sensitive to his demands and Ramdev withdrawing the agitation latest by Saturday evening.Updated: Jun 06, 2011, 01:56 IST
The government and Baba Ramdev had agreed on a script to withdraw the agitation he had started. It entailed the government appearing sensitive to his demands and Ramdev withdrawing the agitation latest by Saturday evening. But the entire plan went awry as Ramdev read the script his way.
At 4 pm on Saturday, while the government was waiting for a statement from Ramdev, the Baba was waiting for nothing less than the announcement of an ordinance on legal steps to bring back black money stashed abroad.
Government sources claimed that this was the second time Ramdev had reneged on the pre-determined script he had agreed to, and that it was unwilling to trust the yoga guru any more.
It had decided that under no circumstances would it allow Ramdev's agitation to carry into Sunday morning — when it feared a new wave of people entering Delhi, potentially triggering a law and order situation.
“The Baba went back on his commitment. Had he stuck to what he had committed, none of this would have happened,” tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahay told reporters on Sunday. Sahay and Kapil Sibal, the telecom and education minister, were the government’s two negotiators with Ramdev.
The first time Ramdev broke away from the agreed script was on Friday — just after a deal had been struck with Sibal and Sahay at the Claridges Hotel, a venue picked after the Baba refused to meet them at a Golf Links office, government sources said.
The sources said that instead of announcing that he would not go on fast, as he was supposed to, Ramdev pleaded that he be allowed a day’s time to make the announcement on Saturday afternoon.
The government agreed — on the condition that Ramdev's aide Acharya Balkrishna sign a statement assuring that the Baba would announce the withdrawal of his agitation Saturday afternoon.
But while government sources said its decision was a concession to allow Ramdev a route to avoid embarrassment — as supporters who had travelled for the agitation would have felt let down — the Baba claimed it was he who had done the government a favour.
"The ministers told me they needed the signed statement because they were lampooned for coming to the airport to receive me, and that the Prime Minister needed some assurance from me," Ramdev said in Hardwar on Sunday.
But even as it allowed Ramdev to delay meeting his end of the agreement, the government on Saturday morning started preparing for the possibility of the Baba reneging again on his commitment.
Home minister P Chidambaram met Sibal and Sahay on the forenoon on Saturday, where they first decided that Ramdev would — if necessary — be evicted if he refused to announce the end of his agitation by the afternoon.
When Ramdev did renege on making the announcement Saturday afternoon, Chidambaram, Sibal and Sahay met again, and the Delhi police were then told to stand by for a possible action, without being told specifics of the plan.
But the government then decided to give Ramdev one final chance. When the Baba told his followers that he was continuing with this fast because the government had not informed him in writing about meeting its commitments, Sibal first spoke to him on the telephone. MAKING OF CHAOS
At about 11.30 pm, the government sent a letter to Ramdev, specifying its commitment to a law to bring back black money, also sending a Hindi translation to avoid any confusion.
Ramdev, however, told the government ministers that he had decided to continue with his agitation. The government decided it had had enough, and the police took over.