Analysis

Baba Ramdev’s Political Drama!

Seriously speaking, genuine concern to root out corruption does not seem to be the main motive behind the massive rally held earlier this month at Ramlila ground by yogic leader Ramdev and his supporters. The same may be said about their reaction to police action taken against the demonstrators prompting Ramdev to escape the site and bring that “protest-rally” to an end. Amazingly, even the “escape” of Ramdev had more than sufficient ingredients of a high-profile drama- from his donning women’s attire, using females as his security shield to managing his “escape” and “avoid” being arrested.

This perhaps was one of the many sequences of numerous dramas planned by Ramdev and his supporters, including Sangh Parivar, to remain in the media limelight till probably the next Lok Sabha polls. Now, does this guarantee elimination of corruption from the Indian system. In fact, the noise raised by Ramdev and his supporters against the police action, appears to have diverted their attention and that of the media from what they have projected as their primary concern; that is their anti-corruption drive.

Against the backdrop of measures being taken against those allegedly responsible for several corruption-cases, the noise made by Ramdev on this issue loses significance. It would have been considered more significant had the government refused to take any action against those allegedly responsible for corruption. Let us also accept that corruption is not a new issue and is not confined to only a few sectors. Were it so, a few rallies would have been sufficient to ensure corruption-free services at all levels. Also, it is not an issue about which the common people are unaware or unaffected. In fact, at some point or other, almost every Indian has to face it and also become party to the same process, consciously or unconsciously. It is indeed amazing that the yogic leader and parties rallying behind him, particularly those linked with the saffron-brigade, have woken up to make so much noise on corruption only now. What does this really suggest?

The saffron brigade is apparently at a loss for issues to turn the voters against the Congress-led coalition. The Sangh Parivar is probably hopeful that making noise on corruption, with saffron-clad yogic leader in the forefront, will help them win some support of the people. They may use this as an effective political strategy in the forthcoming assembly elections, particularly in Uttar Pradesh and the next Lok Sabha polls. Well, this seems to be their political agenda. But they appear to have lost the main battle, before it has even begun.

Understandably, the reaction of Ramdev’s supporters regarding police action against demonstrators at Ramlila ground is justified. But considering the havoc that people linked with Sangh Parivar can wreak, as they have in the past, it was quite reasonable of concerned authorities to feel alarmed at their large gathering. Gujarat-carnage and nation-wide riots over the Ayodhya-issue are still regarded as dark chapters in the history of Indian secularism. Besides, the police is known to have burst teargas shells, indulged in lathi-charge and also arrested a few people, usually when political demonstrations have taken place, In fact, organizers of such demonstrations usually take certain steps to ensure that such police action is taken. Without some police action, there is the risk of their demonstration being practically ignored by the media. Against this backdrop, the police action has at least secured Ramdev more media coverage than he and his supporters had apparently envisaged. It has also provided them with another issue to question the government on the police action against peaceful demonstrators. And it is this “gain” that has also prepared the ground for their slipping in the political race. Questions are being raised on what prevented the same people from questioning the police “action” (that is inaction) when Muslims were targeted in Gujarat? What prompts them to remain virtually quiet when Muslims are killed in fake-encounters? Why have they not spoken against the police and their own associates held responsible for a series of terrorist-incidents, for which innocent Muslims were earlier blamed?

Yes, the police action against peaceful demonstrators at any point may be viewed as unjustified. But, how can it be overlooked, that there prevailed the risk of the same “peaceful demonstrators” turning violent in the coming days. Should the concerned authorities have remained oblivious of the possibility of devastating violence that demonstrators may or could have subsequently resorted to?

Desperate for media coverage and ambition to emerge as a national leader probably prompted Ramdev to organize the Ramlila demonstration. Over the years, he may succeed in securing a seat in Parliament. But that is it. The Indians are not politically naïve. The yogic guru’s political drama is for his own gains and that of the Sangh Parivar, neither of which is likely to be politically acceptable by Indians as a whole and by “secular” allies of Bharatiya Janata Party. So, though Ramdev may continue his “show,” curtains are already down, curtailing prospects of Sangh Parivar gaining political limelight by such drama!   

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 June 2011 on page no. 14

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