No breakthrough in talks, Ramdav to go ahead with fast

Renowned yoga guru Baba Ramdev reacts as he is surrounded by media personnel after a meeting with government representatives, a day ahead of his proposed fast against corruption, in New Delhi, June 3. Ramdev said that he will go ahead with his plan of fasting from Saturday June 4, 2011 to protest against corruption and what he says is the Indian government’s inaction in bringing back black money stashed abroad.
(AP Photo)

NEW Delhi, june 3 (PTI): Talks between Baba Ramdev and the Union government brokedown on Friday. Baba Ramdev announced that he would go ahead with his indefinite fast against corruption, scheduled to begin on Saturday. Meanwhile, Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal said that the government would hold another round of talks with the yoga guru. “It’s up to Ramdev to decide what he wants to do,” said Kapil Sibal. The marathon meeting between Congress ministers Kapil Sibal and Subodh Kant Sahay, from government side, and Ramdev discussed various demands raised by the yoga guru, who had threatened to go on an indefinite satayagraha from Saturday against corruption and black money.
Sources indicated that almost all issues raised by the Baba were nearing resolution and there could be a one-day token fast by Ramdev and his supporters. The government on Friday initiated a fresh round of talks with Baba Ramdev to persuade him to give up his proposed agitation. Before the crucial talks with Ramdev, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P Chidambaram and some of their colleagues went into a huddle to prepare a draft for the meeting. Making all-out efforts to placate the yoga guru, the government made senior ministers stay put in the capital. Hectic back-channel efforts he been on for the last two days to placate Ramdev, who has raised issues of black money and corruption, as the government is keen to avert an Anna Hazare-like protest on the streets.
While Mukherjee scrapped his plan to visit Kolkata, law minister Veerappa Moily ended up cancelling his scheduled trip to Mangalore apparently for the same reason. The meeting between Sibal, Sahay and Ramdev came after the Baba’s address to his supporters where he indicated a softening of his stance. “...Barring one or two issues, a consensus seems to be emerging between us and the government,” said the yoga guru, who had held his first round of talks with senior ministers, including Mukherjee, who had met him at the airport after his arrival here on June 1. Addressing a gathering of more than 5000 people who poured in here to join him in his satyagraha against corruption from tomorrow, Ramdev said his movement is being undertaken in “national interest” and is not sponsored by any political party.
“Our agitation is not against any political party or individual. We are neutral, not being sponsored by any party or organisation and people from all castes and religion are joining us. We appeal to all parties to join us. We are erecting a special stage where representatives from all parties can come to put forth their point of view,” he said. Flanked by leaders of various religions, he also tried to deflect criticism that he is crossing the tenets of Yoga by taking up issue of corruption. “I am not crossing the limits of Yoga. Not lying and stealing is also part of yoga and I am trying to bring those who have crossed that limit back within the limit.” In an apparent reference to suggestions that his movement is aimed at undermining Gandhian Anna Hazare’s agitation on the same issue, Ramdev said, “We do not want to show anyone as inferior or defeat anybody.”
Ramdev claimed his movement was aimed at bringing back the Rs 400 lakh crore black money stashed overseas and change the corrupt system. “Not all politicians, businessmen and officers are corrupt but those who are corrupt among them have created a black empire by looting people’s money. Some people have hijacked democracy and turned it into a corrupt system.” Claiming that there are many corrupt people like “Hasan Ali and A Raja” in the country, he said “Ravan of corruption will be killed in Ramleela Maidan” and maintained that there will “Satyagraha against corruption in 624 villages” across the country from tomorrow. The fight against corruption will not be easy as those who benefit from graft are powerful, he said, adding “I am ready to fast for not only three days but for 30 days as we are doing it for the starving people in the country,” he said.
He demanded a public service delivery act under which government officials have to respond to any issue brought by common man within a time-frame, failing which they will be fined and suspension will be given to repeat offenders. Apparently targeting his critics, Ramdev said, “Those on constitutional posts must have failed to some extent so that we are being forced to take up these issues.” He said there should be fast-track courts to try graft cases and those who have looted crores via corrupt practices should be given life term or death sentence.

Baba Ramdev’s stir a democratic right: Nitish

PATNA, june 3 (PTI):
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said that Yoga Guru Ramdev’s proposed hunger strike against corruption is well within his democratic rights. “Anybody or any organisation has the democratic right to protest and put forward their views,” was the cryptic reply of Kumar when mediamen sought his comment on the proposed stir.
Reiterating the firm resolve of his government to root out corruption, Kumar said the prevention of corruption act had come into force in Bihar. “Corruption at any level won’t be tolerated... we have framed laws for confiscating the properties of corrupt public servants disproportionate to their known sources of income,” he said. “We will be constitent in our approach to end corruption,” he said.

Rs 18 cr already pumped into Ramdev’s stir: Report

NEW Delhi, june 3 (agencies):
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev has already pumped 18 crore rupees for his ‘fast-unto-death’ stir against corruption in New Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan, according to a media report. The report said that the ground will have 2,50,000 square feet of waterproof tents of 30 feet height with 780 fans and 100 coolers. Seven large screen television sets, 100 CCTV cameras and low-noise sound systems will also be installed.
The MCD is charging 3.10 lakh rupees for the ground for May 13 to June 30, while the tent city will cost about two crore rupees per month, the report said. The ground will also have air-conditioned intensive care units for emergencies. The ground will have facility to store 1,00,000 litre water, while eight crore rupees have been invested for 500 RO plants of 16 lakh rupees each, the report added. It will also have 1,300 toilets for Baba Ramdev’s supporters.