Friday, June 03, 2011

Nothing improper in govt talking to Ramdev

The yoga guru is getting more crowds than the BJP, says a minister

New Delhi: A minister in the Manmohan Singh cabinet had a tough time in explaining the rationale of the government going out of its way to consider the demands of yoga guru, Baba Ramdev. The minister who spoke on condition of anonymity felt that both Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev had a certain following in society, and refused to accept that they are 'political non-entities'.

The minister said that Hazare and Ramdev raised imporrtant issues which were of concernt to the UPA as well and there is nothing unusual if the government were to share with them information about what the it has already done with regard to corruption or with tracing black money in foreign banks. For example, government has signed tax information exchange agreements with many countries and there are more in the pipeline.

The minister had visited Ramdev's yoga centre at Hardwar because the government was looking at spiritual and health tourism, and Ramdev seemed to offer attractive destinations. She also said that it was a good thing that people in their thousands had become health conscious because he had popularised yoga.

It looks like a desperate attempt to clutch at the straws that one could get as a way of justifying the enormous effort the government and the Congress party are making to meet the demands of Ramdev as much as it is possible to do so.

She had agreed that the emergence of the non-governmental actors like Hazare and Ramdev is due to the fact that the main opposition party, the BJP, has failed to perfomr its duty, demanding the JPC and stalling the entire winter session of parliament. She also said that unlike the BJP which could not marshal crowds on the price rise issue and that of corruption, Ramdev seems to be able to enthuse people in a big way to join in his movement.

She agreed that Ramdev's preparations for the yoga class-cum-fast-against corruption were being done on a lavish scale, and it has become necessary for the government to take note of his activities.

She also denied that there was any communication gap between the UPA government and the Congress party. Copies of the Group of Ministers (GoM) press briefings are sent to the party office, and Congress office-bearers are kept in the loop, she said. It was also pointed out the Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh who made some caustic remarks against Ramdev on Wednesday did not say anything afresh on Thursday.

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