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The Anna-Ramdev dilemma


ADITI PRASAD | New Delhi, June 4, 2012 17:36
Tags : Baba Ramdev | Anna Hazare | corruption | yoga guru | Arvind Kejriwal' |

THE ANNA-RAMDEV DILEMMAMaking a case for why Anna and Ramdev should not join forces in the anti-graft crusade.

Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev seem to have teamed up in their crusade against corruption. And why not? Despite the controversies and recriminations between Team Anna and the Yoga Guru that continued on and off for the most part of the last one year – the two mass leaders do share the anti-graft common cause. So when Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare fasted together for a day in New Delhi yesterday (Sunday), it was certainly not a new phenomena. What was new however was the coming together of their respective followers who are as different from one another as chalk from cheese. While Anna's followers comprise the educated urban youth – who perhaps see a glimmer of Gandhi in Anna's khadi attire and simple ways – Baba Ramdev's supporters, inspired by his yoga remedies - come largely from India's rural and semi-urban heartlands.

Let's rewind a little. When Anna Hazare sat on his indefinite fast against corruption on 5th April 2011, the Yoga Guru had made an appearance - complete with his supple tummy, saffron loin cloth and unruly hair tied back into a pony tail. Ramdev also used Anna's platform to wax eloquent about his pet cause of bringing back the black money stashed away in offshore tax havens. But the swelling crowds at Jantar Mantar in April 2011 were there for Anna, batting for a strong anti-graft ombudsman in the form of the Lokpal Bill. So Baba Ramdev's impassioned speech and posturing left the largely urban middle class largely unaffected. I mean, sure they patiently heard him – but also were happy to see his back, given that Anna was the real showstopper for them.

Small surprise then, that less than a couple of months later, Baba Ramdev held his own now-famous indefinite fast at Ramlila Grounds where a multitude of trucks and buses brought in 'his' followers from the hinterlands – who imbibed his passionate speeches with breathless anticipation. Team Anna was conspicuous by its absence at this protest demonstration.

Cut to the present. The joint fast organised by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev saw a mixed turn out comprising supporters of the respective leaders. The venue was the same as April 2011, although it did seem to be mainly a Ramdev show, at least in terms of who turned up. The 'Anna' topis were missing and so were the Anna Hazare slogans and tri-colour painted faces. Ramdev supporters from the hinterlands, and large cut outs of the Yoga Guru dominated the venue. Anna supporters were also there. But they were much lesser in number and it seemed not even talking or mingling with the Ramdev set.

What I am trying to get at is that while Anna and Ramdev do pack a mean punch for the UPA anti-graft cause separately, any joint ventures is obviously not gonna work just as well. The vast difference in the socio-economic backgrounds of their respective fan base is a key divergence. Anna represents India, while Ramdev represents Bharat. In case of Ramdev followers, Anna – who was almost a non-entity for a majority of North Indians till about a year ago - does not ring that big a bell. Conversely, many of Anna's followers (including some members of Team Anna), regard Baba Ramdev with cynicism and disdain, not least because of his multi-million dollar yoga business and sundry corruption allegations against him. In fact, the huge gap in their respective identities – one is a rich Yoga practitioner who owns a Scottish island and travels by private jets, while the other is a social activist who claims the Gandhian legacy of simple living and high thinking – is a key reason for the different sets of people and perceptions that back them individually.

Perhaps, as it has been in the past, it will always either be an Anna show or a Ramdev show – with a crowd-swell that is divided across the middle – refusing common cause with each other. A lot of the individual supporters in fact may not turn up at these joint rallies – refusing to be identified with Baba Ramdev's brand of saffron sanyas.

As a strong supporter of the anti-graft campaign (not Anna or Ramdev but the cause), one would advice both Anna and Ramdev to avoid each other like the plague. Recall the pressure on the UPA government in the summer months last year? Both Anna and Ramdev were batting separately at the time. And both had their individual support bases at their peak. The middle class youth flocked to Anna, while Baba Ramdev played to the gallery among rural and semi-urban crowds. Result: a cornered government flailing to grasp the modalities of this two pronged attack by two separate constituencies.

An inconspicuous benefit of Anna and Ramdev going their separate ways will of course be the resultant harmony between the two camps. The day-long joint fast on June 3rd unequivocally proved that some members of Team Anna and Baba Ramdev may never see eye to eye. The manner in which Ramdev publicly disapproved of Arvind Kejriwal's remarks against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – and Kejriwal's hurried exit from the venue after the snub – is the most recent example of how the two camps have simmering differences on a host of issues.

We know there's at least one supporter of this 'let's walk separately' path for Anna and Ramdev. What say, Mr. Kejriwal?

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Sunday Indian)
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Posted By: Dr.A.Ravindranath Kennedy | Singampunari | June 8th 2012 | 13:06
The only way to make glorious India is, to support the non corruptive and anti terrorism based real communist political party like RSP, Revolutionary Socialist Party that, originated from Murshidabad, West Bengal State formed by the best Indian parlimentarian comrade. Tridip Kumar Chowdury in the year of 1940. The party shall bear true faith and allegiance to the constitution of India as by law established and to the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy and would uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India. And now recently, RSP, Revolutionary Socialist Party 19th National Conference was held at Alipurduar, West Bengal State on. 20.04.2012 to 23.04.2012. Tamilnadu State Convener Dr.A.Ravindranath Kennedy Participated in that Conference and gave a delegate speech as, the representative for Tamilnadu State Revolutionary Socialist Party. On 23.04.2012, final day of the RSP Conference Session, Comrade.Prof.T.J.Chandrachoodan was unanimously re elected as National General Secretary of the Party by the newly formed RSP Party Central Committee members and also Supported by all RSP Delegates and Comrades of the Conference Session. Numerous Delegates and Comrades of RSP were Paticipated in that Confernce,They came from various State of our Country likely, the states of West Bengal, Kerala, Tripura, Tamilnadu, Assam, Jharkhand, Pondicherry, Jammu&Kashmir, Uttarpradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisghar, Andhra, Hariyana, Odissa(instead of Orissa), Bihar, Uttaranjal e.t.c.,

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