Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Home minister P.Chidambaram clarifies action against Ramdev, but picture remains hazy

Home minister P.Chidambaram spoke to Doordarshan, which still remains a government mouthpiece despite it being made autonomous under Prasar Bharati in 1997 under then information and broadcasting minister S.Jaipal Reddy. It would appear that Mr Chidambaram felt that he could lay out his whole argument in a thorough way and without interruption than if he did an open press conference. Then his responses would have grabbed the headlines and not his researched version of the Delhi police evicting yoga teacher Ramdev from the Ramlila Maidan on June 4/5 post-midnight operation would have been buried under the rubble of soundbites.

He did express his fullest sympathy for the woman, Raj Bala, who had been fatally injured during the police action and who is now near-paralytic. The minister said he would like to visit the family of Bala and promise compensation and help. He let his mask of reserve and arrogance slip a bit and revealed a trace of humaneness.

But by laying bare the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) network behind Ramdev's anti-corruption movement/agitation he did not really reveal anything more sinister than that RSS is really the brain behind the yoga teacher-turned-agitator. Whether this proves anything more than the saffron link which is what the Congress wants to prove. This is part of the political battle that the Congress and some other secular-minded parties may want to fight with the insignificant right-wing Hindu organisation. The RSS would sink into oblivion but for the strenuous efforts that the Congress party's secular leaders make to keep it from withering away.

It is not clear whether the government wants to wean away Ramdev and Anna Hazare from the clutches of RSS as Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari said on June 7, or whether they would like to battle Ramdev as Congress' Digvijay Singh is doing directly.

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