Attacking the UPA government and threatening a fight to the finish by August on the blackmoney issue, Anna Hazare and yoga guru Ramdev on Sunday sat on a day-long fast protesting against corruption.
Ramdev termed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh an “honest person”, but asked him to make his Cabinet “corruption free.”
“The Prime Minister was forced to give statement on illegal mining. We all know that Manmohan Singh is an honest person and we all respect him. But people expect him to make his Cabinet corruption free…Please fulfill your democratic duties,” Ramdev said at Jantar Mantar at the joint one-day fast with Anna Hazare.
Recalling Singh’s statement that hunger and malnutrition are a ‘national shame’, he said mere statements will not solve the problem.
Referring to the issue of black money, he alleged that Rs 400 lakh crore of Indian money was stashed abroad and if the amount was brought back to the country, the nation would become “far superior” to China and the United States.
“We need to bring back black money. I appeal to the people of the country to join this fight. We are intensifying this fight. From today, we are intensifying our protest to bring back black money stashed abroad and want all of the countrymen to be part of the fight to finish by August,” he said before the start of the fast.
He claimed that FDI in India worth Rs 20 lakh crore holds the ‘key’ to people involved in stashing black money abroad. “If the government names the actual owners of the FDI, the puzzle to black money will be solved,” he said.
Seeking answers to the fall of the rupee and dipping GDP from Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Ramdev said the Indian economy will be strengthened if the black money is brought back and the youth are given ample employment opportunities.
Recalling the police crackdown on his supporters last year, Ramdev claimed it was “Ravan lila” played out at the Ramlila grounds.
“Even Mahatma Gandhi had said that India needs its own laws. But we still have British era laws like the one on land acquisition and the Police Act. We need swadeshi laws and remove the archaic laws,” he said.
The yoga guru wondered why Team Anna and his followers are dubbed as “villains” when they speak against corruption and Lokpal as a mechanism to deal with it when Mahatma Gandhi was most vocal against graft.
He claimed efforts by the government to tarnish the image of Team Anna members and his aides had failed to break the movement against corruption.
“Whenever we talk of corruption, those in the power and leaders of the ruling party maintain that laws are not made on the streets…We are not against anyone…There is no family feud. All we need is a corruption-free India,” he said.
Team Anna member Santosh Hedge, who was not present at the fast venue, said, “I have to go to Delhi today. My full support is with them. Anna and Ramdev have joined hands. Together this moment will go far ahead. I have no doubt that any political party will have to pass a strong Lokpal Bill. Political parties will not form institution against themselves.”
The fast has been called to mark one year of Ramdev’s last agitation at Ramlila ground, from where he was arrested in the middle of the night between June 3 and 4 last year.
Earlier, Anna and Ramdev visited the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat. Ramdev reached the samadhi along with a number of his supporters after taking out a march from the Delhi borders while Anna went there from Maharashtra Sadan where he was staying.
Before beginning their journey to Rajghat, Ramdev and his close aide Acharya Balkrishna went to Azad Hind Gram on Ttikrikalan on Delhi border and paid tributes to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Anna was accompanied by Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi.
Both Anna Hazare and Ramdev spent some time meditating at Rajghat. Ramdev also went to the nearby Shahid Park. The protest at Jantar Mantar is likely to see Anna and Ramdev announcing their strategy for the 2014 General Elections.
The one-day fast demanding bringing back blackmoney stashed abroad and against the corruption and corrupt system will have its echo in the state capitals as well with Ramdev’s Bharat Swabhiman Andolan organising protests.