Ramdev ends fast, targets PM; Congress hits back (Second Lead)

August 14th, 2012 - 8:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) Yoga guru Baba Ramdev Tuesday ended his five-day fast against corruption and black money, accusing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of shielding the corrupt and asking people not to vote for the Congress in the 2014 general elections.

Ramdev broke his fast with lime juice given to him by two children.

“I am ending the fast but the agitation will go on till our demands are met,” Ramdev told a huge gathering at the Ambedkar Stadium in central Delhi where he and his supporters spent the night after police detained them Monday evening while marching to parliament.

Ramdev and his supporters chose to stay on at the stadium even after police revoked detention and permitted them to leave Monday night. After breaking his fast Tuesday, Ramdev flew back to Haridwar where he runs a yoga centre.

However, before leaving the capital, Ramdev, in a politically-laced speech, lambasted the prime minister and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

“He (Manmohan Singh) should show political will and honesty and if he does not show it, he will be deemed as corrupt. If he can’t remain politically honest, then he should leave the post,” Ramdev said in his speech that lasted one hour.

“Why are you getting yourself insulted; if you cannot bring back black money, then become a baba like me. You come from Sikh community, and many Sikh gurus gave their lives for noble cause. I request you to learn something from them and serve the country.”

Holding the Congress responsible for price rise and poverty, Ramdev asked people not to vote for the party.

“We have decided not to vote for Congress. The party has made us poor and put us in poverty. You have to tell people that it is Congress which has pushed you to poverty and is responsible for price rise.”

Ramdev said the Congress was the most corrupt party and not even one Congress member deserved to be elected in the 2014 general elections.

“Congress hatao, desh bachao (Remove Congress, save the country),” he called, and his supporters echoed the call. They also raised slogans of “Vande Mataram” and “Bharat Mata ki jai”.

His remarks evoked a sharp reaction from the government and the Congress.

Corporate Affairs Minister M. Veerapa Moily accused him of using “loose language” for people in authority and said the government had taken several initiatives to tackle black money.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the government had been spelling out its steps to tackle black money for the past few years and it would be wrong to accuse it of inaction.

Ramdev, who launched his agitation at Ramlila Maidan Aug 9, said he had not been defeated. On the contrary, he had become successful in bringing many political parties on board against black money and corruption.

“Had there been voting in parliament Monday on black money, the government would have fallen. We have got support from parties supporting the ruling alliance,” he said.

Delhi Police had appealed to Ramdev and the crowds to vacate the stadium due to security reasons ahead of Independence Day celebrations. The stadium falls on the route the prime minister would take on his way to the Red Fort to unfurl the tricolour at the Independence Day celebrations.

“The prime minister’s Independence Day speech must include response on black money,” Ramdev said, as thousands of his supporters cheered him lustily. He was referring to the prime minister’s address to the nation on the occasion of India’s 65th Independence Day on Aug 15.

“He should give a solution to solve corruption and black money problems, otherwise the country will hold him responsible too,” he added.

On Saturday evening, Ramdev extended his three-day symbolic fast and threatened a “revolution” after the government failed to react.

Ramdev is demanding the return of black money, a strong Lokpal bill, and a transparent process to name heads of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Election Commission.

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