Dr Manmohan Singh: India’s Col Muammar Gaddafi
Baba Ramdev had never gone to traditional college. Instead, at an early age, after 8th grade, he was influenced by gurus of Hinduism and yoga—he opted to study Hindu religious scriptures in gurukul. He revolutionised ancient yoga, which had been hijacked by Chinese and other western people; some even patented yoga. Because of his mastery in Hindu religious scriptures and yoga—he started his career as a religious scholar and yoga teacher. His Ayurvedic medicines sale picked up and the price of the land held by his trust went up over decades. Was it his fault or his achievement?
Well, to an ordinary citizen, this was an achievement of a Yoga Guru. Well, to Congress Party, its Kapil Sibal (because he still believes that there was zero loss in 2G scam) and Digvijay Singh—it was a sin for a baba (sanyasi) to become an entrepreneur using only “white money”, for, a sanyasi has no right to earn money and ride a chartered flight. A sanyasi has got no right to open a yoga centre, in any of the countries where black money is stashed by them. What a great logic!
Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan, who allegedly make movies using underworld black money and don’t reveal their real income per movie, were worried that their black money would become national asset if Baba Ramdev becomes successful.
Baba Ramdev was the host to the yoga-cum-fasting event at Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi. He used his volunteers to provide a shelter and other basic facilities for his invited guests, admirers, disciples and other common men, women and children—who shared his “commonsense vision” of corruption. Shocked by his perfect planning and organising skills, those who earlier assumed that people won’t come to his event because of the peak summer heat, got terribly upset.
The fight against corruption and black money is not a difficult one, if only there is a will to fight this. You confiscate their swallowed ill-gotten money; either award death or life sentence, so that they don’t get out and enjoy their ill-gotten wealth by withdrawing from United Bank of Switzerland and other tax havens. Circulation of 1000’s and 500’s currency notes during election is a wellknown issue, if someone has to transport Rs 50 crore in 100’s, that won’t fit in a suitcase and one can be easily caught.
Baba Ramdev was not re-inventing wheel. He was just repeating—what you, me and any common Indian citizen have been thinking daily. His sin was that he wanted to represent us to fight against the system—more specifically with the mighty Congress Party and its patrons, who would never do anything serious to confiscate black money, even after the PM was warned by the Supreme Court of India time and again.
The Supreme Court is helpless, if there is no will, within government to act on readily available information and available Swiss laws. It can warn the government for inaction but can’t force it to act. The other day The Hindu reported that for last several years, Swiss bank has been reimbursing European Union nations, around 75 per cent of accrued interest of the deposited black money of their citizens. Manmohan Singh wouldn’t take advantage of that Swiss bank rule. Why?
When Shri LK Advani raised this black money issue during March 2009, Dr Manmohan Singh said that neither was he available for a television face-off election debate nor was he concerned to get the black money. He discredited Mr Advani by calling it an election stunt. He would not even sign a United Nation Treaty since 2005 to get international cooperation on corruption.
Why? Don’t ask me. You know the reason. Gandhi family and most Congress leaders has stashed hundreds of crores in Swiss bank and other tax havens. Elections are fought using black money.
So, if our PM Manmohan Singh was serious about getting stashed black money from Swiss bank and other tax havens, he and his Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee would have done it in 2005 by signing the UN Treaty.
On January 19, 2011, the Supreme Court of India said: “Government was wrong in treating black money as a tax issue, when it was simple and pure theft of the Indian economy.” The court said that information from banks in all countries was needed.
Baba Ramdev was not telling any different from what the Supreme Court had
said. He designated those as traitors and demanded death sentence. But after negotiation with the government, he climbed down to life imprisonment and demanded the confiscated money to be declared the “national asset”.
The Supreme Court of India also criticised Manmohan Singh’s government for not making public all the names on the black money list. The apex court said that plunder of the nation had taken place.
On March 8, 2011, the Supreme Court of India, once again warned the government, during the hearing of black money case, for booking the alleged income tax defaulter Hasan Ali under a softer law—Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
A bench comprising justices B Sudarshan Reddy and SS Nijjar asked the Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, who appeared for the government and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), “Why is Ali not booked under POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act)?”
The Supreme Court also wanted the government to investigate the case from the angle of national security. Dr Manmohan Singh doesn’t agree with Supreme Court’s view.
ANATOMY OF POLITICAL SUICIDE
The police had disallowed Baba Ramdev to hold a rally at Ramlila Maidan. He was allowed only to conduct a yoga camp. Later the police gave him permission to hold his protest rally and fast at the ground. The ground was dug up, coolers and air conditioners were installed, any number of toilets was set up. The government cooperated by allowing transportation for thousands, who arrived from outside the capital to join the rally. When Baba Ramdev arrived by jet aircraft, four Cabinet ministers greeted him at the airport. Subsequently, Cabinet ministers held parleys with him. His demands were discussed. It was claimed that agreement was imminent. Baba Ramdev committed himself to ending the fast only after written acceptance of his demands was delivered.
At midnight the police revoked permission for the rally and descended on the ground to detain Baba Ramdev and forcibly evict his supporters including women and children. Those who resisted were lathi-charged.
There is nationwide disgust with political corruption. Corruption was exposed after the Supreme Court pressured probe agencies to do their job. Corruption became a burning issue. Anna Hazare started his fast against corruption. India’s prime TV channel gave 100 hours of uninterrupted coverage of the fast. NGOs all over the nation swung into action. A middle-class protest gathered strength.
Despite this, Anna Hazare’s protest is erroneously described as being “spontaneous”. The Lokpal debate helped the government. Mrs Sonia Gandhi backed it. The Lokpal demand diverted attention from the ongoing corruption cases. Rootless people claiming to represent civil society started helping the government to draft the Lokpal Bill for parliament. The whole issue was farcical. The drafting committee got divided. The draft floundered. Lokpal Bill became a non-issue.
Yoga Guru Swami Ramdev had also taken up the corruption issue. He offered lip service to Anna Hazare. Both presented a united front against corruption. But Sonia Gandhi never backed Swami Ramdev. The RSS did. Soon, Hazare and Ramdev started to distance each other. They offered different views about how to tackle corruption. Swami Ramdev launched his own fast. It was Hazare’s turn to offer lip service support. The government and Ramdev reached tacit understanding regarding ending of the fast behind the curtain.
The government had agreed to formally declare that black money abroad was India’s wealth. Ramdev said that this was sufficient to end his fast. It was a meaningless demand. Declaring that black money abroad was national wealth would do nothing to help bring it back. For dealing with present corruption this was as irrelevant as the Lokpal Bill. Curiously, neither Hazare nor Ramdev publicly demanded that the government release all the names provided by Germany related to illegal bank accounts held by Indians in Lichtenstein. Then in the midst of this soap opera Mr Kapil Sibal disclosed a secret understanding with Ramdev. A letter by Ramdev’s aide pledged ending of the fast by a given time. By Sibal’s disclosure Ramdev felt betrayed. By Ramdev’s delay in ending fast the government felt betrayed. The police launched its crackdown against Ramdev after midnight.
Former Law Minister Mr Shanti Bhushan said that the midnight arrest reminded him of the Emergency. He echoed the sentiments of many. Conditions to justify the police action against Baba Ramdev and his followers did not exist. They were not threatening violence.
Could the police action have been taken not because the government feared a nationwide protest but because it actually wanted it? Does government seek to create conditions that justify the imposition of Emergency? Or is the government unbelievably stupid? Recall the old saying: Those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. Those who rule this nation seem to have gone mad.
It happened because the government is led by a Prime Minister who is
continuously disgracing his office by acting as the dummy of an extra-constitutional authority. That alone explains the mixed signals emanating from the government and its confusion. While Cabinet ministers were negotiating with Ramdev and the talks seemed to be proceeding satisfactorily, general secretaries of the party were badmouthing him and threatening a probe into his assets, followed by legal action. After detention, Baba Ramdev was transported by the government to Haridwar. He has announced continuation of his fast and intensification of the fight against corruption. The government has created an icon for the masses that conceivably could unite the Opposition against it. By the televised police operation against a peaceful crowd—including women and children led by a Yogi—the government has created public revulsion against itself.
Where will all this end?
An unprecedented fluid situation has been created that has the potential of altering the face of Indian politics. The corruption issue could now flare up to ignite revolutionary protest. Ramdev, Hazare and most opposition parties could unite, thanks to the government’s heavy handedness. Ramdev may not fill the vacuum created by the collapse of the government. He could certainly become the instrument to destroy it.
The government has provided full opportunity for India’s Jasmine revolution. Thinking people should start creating an alternative, while people bring down this government. The Congress is not only bringing down government but is also digging its own grave. It has all but destroyed the system. What India desperately needs at this crucial juncture is the creation of a modern 21st Century political party that can reclaim the spirit of the Constitution and restore democracy. It remains to be seen how the nation responds to this challenge.
Meanwhile, Baba Ramdev has publicly forgiven the government for its crackdown at Ramila Maidan, because Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described the event as “unfortunate”. Ramdev has not exonerated the police action, which he claims will be condemned by history. However, the PM is forgiven. Baba is ready to resume negotiations with the government, to what might be attributed this extraordinary act of magnanimity.
Two possibilities suggest themselves. The first and obvious possibility is that the heat generated by official probes into the Baba’s wealth is having its effect. The government’s long experience of using official agencies to blackmail and browbeat opponents into submission is by now legendary. However, there might well also be another possibility.
As had been repeatedly pointed out in these columns, there are clear signs of divisions within the Congress as well as the Opposition. The cross party alignments contending with one another are causing much confusion. Circumstantial evidence indicates that broadly speaking Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the Advani setup within BJP and Anna Hazare’s group were ranged on one side. On the other side were, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, RSS and Baba Ramdev. Might not this alignment explain the mixed signals that emanated from the government in addressing the Ramlila Maidan rally?
Not only did Congress general secretaries Mr Digvijay Singh and Mr Abhishek Singhvi issue statements to grievously damage the parleys between Baba Ramdev and the government. The pressure on Mr Kapil Sibal, apparently a PM loyalist, by Baba’s waywardness led him in desperation to release the secret letter by Ramdev’s aide, in order to justify himself. If the PM has to bend before 10 Janpath, surely his loyalists must have to crawl! The draconian midnight police action at Ramlila Maidan, without giving any time to the peacefully sleeping protestors to respond to the revocation notice issued might also be explained by inner party conflict of the Congress.
The Home Ministry falls under Mr P Chidambaram. Mr Chidambaram, who in his own words has merely to close his eyes when Mr Rahul Gandhi speaks to conjure the vision of the late Rajiv Gandhi, is a fierce 10 Janpath loyalist. He appears to be, in fact, Mr Digvijay Singh’s most serious rival in the sycophancy stakes of the Congress Party. Mr Chidambaram’s tension with the PM became apparent during the 2G spectrum scam.
Baba Ramdev’s desire to resume dialogue with the government might well be impelled by the aim of concluding an unfinished agenda. The Congress Party is comparatively isolated. Could the conclusion of the unfinished agenda deliver the knockout blow to the Congress? The endgame of the soap opera being enacted to bring back black money from abroad would be, of course, the dramatic exposure of the Congress Party VIPs. That explains the hysteria displayed by Congress leaders responding to Baba Ramdev. Would not leaders accused of receiving money from foreign governments by official foreign sources and of holding illegal Swiss bank accounts by reputed foreign media, be in the natural course nervous at the prospect of the truth coming out about Indian black money abroad?
By Rajinder Puri
Hasan Ali—who got arrested after the government was pulled up by the Supreme Court for not registering any case against him—is reported to have illegally stashed away about $8 billion in a Swiss bank account; the Income Tax department has demanded Rs 50,000 crore as tax dues from him.
And, the fault of Baba Ramdev—while demanding confiscating black money, he also demanded the black money of all Congress leaders and their patrons to be declared the “national asset”—which they have accumulated for their sons, grandsons and their next seven generations.
So, not only was there a deliberate attempt to sabotage Baba Ramdev’s fasting satyagrah, but there was also a plan to discredit him, so that he doesn’t repeat such huge protests in future; so in good faith, Kapil Sibal and his cohorts, got a letter signed in advance, which Baba’s team should have signed only after receiving the written assurance from the government. From Baba Ramdev’s perspective, this was a trust factor; he trusted the government negotiators in good faith, who were hell bent on discrediting his agitation against black money.
Now, few activists are calling Baba’s agenda ‘the hidden agenda’ and Kapil Sibal is ‘the honest guy’ for them. They are celebrating without knowing “How hard it is to fight against a system, where a large majority of people are corrupt and thieves”; who would never like any kind of policing on their ill-gotten wealth. They apparently have got full faith on the leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh and his ministers. Good luck to their noble thoughts and strong belief in the culture of Congress Party.
You may think, if Bhushans were not there, what would have Kapil Sibal done to Anna Hazare? You know the ordeal of Bhushans as well.
There were several ignorant groups on television too, who were aware of Manmohan Singh’s attitude and effort of past seven years, to get back black money but debating foolishly, they see civil society’s concern and agitation as blackmail; that means, the civil society should be a mute spectator until Manmohan Singh or any other future government acts in confiscating black money.
It is like asking thieves, whether they want a police station in their area. In Jan Lokpal bill, they want PM to be kept out of Lokpal investigation—even though we saw PM like Manmohan Singh and Deve Gowda.
Some Human Rights and Dalit activists didn’t like the presence of VHP leader Sadhvi Ritambhara on the stage; they were upset because of the presence of RSS activists and BJP’s support to Baba. So, there was again a deliberate attempt to question Baba’s secular credentials. So, a Hindu Baba needs a credential from Hindus to lead an agitation in a Hindu majority land! Good that we don’t have rishis like Durbasa, who would have cursed them for such stupidity.
What is BJP’s national vote share? Why do people keep voting BJP in several states and they even voted a BJP-led coalition at the Centre? If all those people, who voted BJP are designated as communal by activists then let them know that communal people also need representation in power just like Muslims, OBCs, Dalits and other sections.
So, the question arises—after seeing Baba Ramdev’s ordeal in national television, are you celebrating or are you hurt? I know, a few ignorant people are celebrating without knowing that whatever Baba’s so-called hidden agenda was, if the government had agreed to his demands—we, as a nation would have benefited. Now, he was given a letter and the government tried to discredit his stature and statesmanship.
Beating up innocent women and children in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan at mid-night is what Libya’s Col Muammar Gaddafi have been doing so far—now our Dr Manmohan Singh has done that.
The brave Baba Ramdev, who is still fasting, had to jump from the stage in the middle of the night to avoid a sabotage of his satyagraha by police. His supporters, who were also fasting with him were beaten up. If this is democracy then what would you call what is happening in Arab and African countries such as Libya, Syria, and Yemen?
Many people including former Law Minister and senior lawyer Shani Bhushan think that Manmohan Singh’s 2011 reminded them of Indira Gandhi’s 1975.
By Manoj Padhi