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Govt justifies action against Ramdev, rules out further talks

Govt justifies action against Ramdev, rules out further talks
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First Published: Sun, Jun 05 2011. 06 46 PM IST
Updated: Sun, Jun 05 2011. 06 46 PM IST
New Delhi: A tough-talking government on Sunday justified Baba Ramdev’s eviction from Ramlila Ground, accusing him of going back on his word to end the fast and pursuing his “political agenda”.
Hours after 46-year-old Ramdev was bundled out to Dehradun after he was picked up by the police in a pre-dawn swoop, government also firmly ruled out any further talks with the yoga guru on the demands raised by him.
“There is nothing left to discuss (with Ramdev). On what issue we will talk. Whatever talks had to happen have already happened,” Union minister Subodhkant Sahay, involved in negotiations with the yoga guru, told reporters in New Delhi.
Highly-placed government sources said the decision to remove Ramdev from the agitation site was taken at 5 pm on Saturday when it became clear that he was not going to end his fast as promised by him.
Both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were fully in the loop and the decision to act against Ramdev was with their consent, the sources said.
The decision was taken after all efforts to cajole the yoga guru failed and he refused to accept the “practical steps” advocated by the government on his demand for bringing back blackmoney, the sources said.
With the number of people swelling by the hour at the protest site, the government was also worried about the possibility of terrorists mingling in the large congregation and triggering an explosion.
Ramdev was given a final chance at around 4 pm when the government sent a letter stating that actions are being taken by it on his demands against black money and corruption and wanted him to abide by his assurance of calling off the hunger strike.
The yoga guru first wanted an hour’s time, but at around 5 pm announced that his indefinite fast would continue.
At this stage, the government felt that there was no use in continuing with the negotiations with Ramdev as he was raising fresh demands and not abiding by his assurance given in writing by his close aide that the hunger fast would end on Sunday itself.
The government was left with no other option but to take action, the sources said.
On a day of high drama, BJP and other opposition parties attacked the government which also fielded several senior ministers to slam Ramdev.
Union minister Kapil Sibal made it clear that the action had the full backing of the government and the Congress party.
To a question on whether the action had the endorsement of the party, he said: “Absolutely 100 percent. No such action takes place without 100 percent unity in the government and the party.”
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, who led the negotiations on behalf of the government, termed the developments as “unfortunate” and said had Ramdev had stuck to his word, this would not have happened.
Rejecting BJP’s allegations that the action against Ramdev was reminiscent of the Emergency, parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Sunday said the government had to act as the yoga guru did not see reason.
He added, “It was not a crackdown, we had to do it to maintain law and order.”
Sibal said there were apprehensions about law and order situation in Delhi as the yoga guru had collected 50,000 people for “political aasan” (manoeuver) although he had sought permission for a yoga camp for a gathering of 5,000 only.
“It was not a yoga platform, but a political platform,” he said while questioning the presence of Sadhvi Ritambhara in his protest.
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First Published: Sun, Jun 05 2011. 06 46 PM IST