Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev whowas in Delhi for his proposed fast at Ramlila Maidan from June 4, despite government’s efforts to make him withdraw his proposed agitation. In an interview to Uday India he spoke about his agitation. Excerpts:
Anna Hazare was on fast unto death against corruption and for Jan Lokpal Bill. You have also announced fast against corruption. Is there any short-term goal as Anna had Jan Lokpal Bill? How is your movement different from that of Anna?
I am with Anna Hazare in demanding a strong Lokpal Bill. Apart from this, our main demand is that the government must bring back black money stashed away. An ordinance should be passed declaring black money worth Rs 400 lakh crore rupees stashed abroad as national asset and bring it back. This movement is not in competition with anyone. All the movements against corruption are interlinked. Anna Hazare’s and my agenda are not different but the issues are different. Although, we are working separately, we are supporting each other.
How much support do you have? Has any organisation like RSS extended its support to your agitation?
We are getting huge public support throughout the country. On June 4, there will be a satyagraha (protest fast) in Ramlila Maidan as well as in 624 districts across the country, as crores of people want the country to be rid of black money and corruption and a change in system. Many eminent personalities and organisations have extended their support to us. Anna Hazare has also given his support to our movement and he is also likely to join us.
Is your fight against corruption a political movement or apolitical one?
This is completely apolitical movement. We have raised issues of national interest. This fight is not against any political party or any particular person but against deep-rooted corruption in the system. It is a big war. We have to change the system of 64 years. It is not an easy task. But we will get it done together.
What are your other demands?
The first and main issue is of black money. Concrete steps should be taken to bring back the black money in a systematic and time-bound manner. The Indian currency should be demonetised and big currency notes of the value of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 should be withdrawn to control the problem of black money. This would help the government in curbing the practices of accumulating unaccounted wealth, black money, tax evasion, fake currency and misuse of money in elections and for promoting terrorism and Naxalism in the country. We are demanding for Public Service Delivery Guarantee Act that should be implemented in all the states and setting-up of fast track courts to give judgments in one year with provisions for death sentence and attachment of ill-gotten assets for the corrupt government functionaries. The Prime Minister should face direct election and not reach Parliament indirectly. This will make the Prime Minister more accountable to the nation than the party he belongs to. Also, voting should be made compulsory for every citizen failing which he should be debarred from some of the basic facilities guaranteed to him. Farmers should not be deprived of their land for industrial growth. Instead of the minimum support price, they should be given the actual cost of their land. The farmers of the country cannot be labelled as unskilled labourers but they are the skilled manpower.
What assurances have you got from the government in your meeting with the four ministers?
The first round of talks has been positive and there will be further dialogue with the government. We are ready for talks but my hunger strike will go ahead. There is no question of calling off the protest plan till my demands are met and till talks reach a satisfactory conclusion. They have demanded for more time. I have told them to take time and let me go ahead with my fast. Until the government is ready and there is 100 per cent agreement on all issues and a decisive stage is reached, the fast will continue.
Will you ever join politics?
Politics is not everything in life. There are two ways to bring change. One is satyagraha, and the second is to come to power and bring in changes. I have chosen the first way. In a democracy, the biggest power is people’s power. If I have the support of the masses, then I can bring in changes even without coming to power.
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CHARTER OF DEMANDS BY BABA RAMDEV
■ Bring an ordinance declaring black money worth 400 lakh crore rupees stashed abroad as national asset and bring it back.
■ Capital punishment and attachment of illegal property for corrupt Government functionaries
■ Capital punishment and life imprisonment for tax evasion, hoarding, bribery et al
■ Fast track courts in all states to deal with corruption cases
■ Demonetisation of currency and withdrawal of 1000 and 500 rupee notes
■ Prime Minister should be from Lok Sabha
■ Revoke Land Acquisition Act
■ Implementation of Public Service Delivery Guarantee Act in all states
■ Effective Public Distribution System
■ Hindi should be made the medium of education in agriculture. Medical and engineering courses
■ Compulsory voting for every citizen