RSS patronising Ramdev, says Chidambaram (Lead)

June 8th, 2011 - 7:06 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, June 8 (IANS) Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram Wednesday said the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) was behind yoga guru Baba Ramdev, who has launched an indefinite fast to demand the retrieval of rich Indians’ black money stashed in banks abroad.

In an interview to official broadcaster Doordarshan, the home minister said the apex body of the RSS had propped up Ramdev as its patron for an anti-corruption front announced April 2 in Karnataka.

“You should know who is behind Baba Ramdev. We go back to March 2011 at a meeting in Putthur in Karnataka, the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, the apex body of RSS, decided to organise support of all individuals and institutions that were ranged in the fight against corruption.

“On April 7, the RSS announced the formation of an anti-corruption front which had Baba Ramdev as its patron,” Chidambaram said.

Even as the country is witnessing a surge in anti-graft movements with social reformer Anna Hazare in the forefront, the home minister blamed the civil society for undermining parliamentary democracy.

“I support civil society speaking up and raising its voice, but I don’t support elected representatives leaving their obligations and responsibilities to civil society representatives,” he said.

Chidambaram said that the foundation of the country’s governance was parliamentary democracy and blamed a “section of the media” for trying to undermine it.

“I think sections of the media, for reasons which I cannot spell out, are engaged in competitive, populist coverage of these movements. This undermines parliamentary democracy,” he said.

He criticized the civil society members who had challenged Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for a televised debate on corruption.

“When someone challenges the finance minister to a debate on television, he misses the fact that debates take place in parliament. Parliamentary debates are televised and voters watch parliament (proceedings) and exercise their franchise from time to time,” he said.

He said the government was committed to the drafting of the Lokpal bill by June 30 and hoped that five civil society members would return to the joint panel meetings.

“We are clearly committed to the goal that a bill will be drafted by June 30. I sincerely hope that the other five members of the committee will return to the drafting committee’s meeting,” he said.

The civil society members boycotted the panel meeting Monday, saying the post-midnight police crackdown on Ramdev had “strengthened the doubts” about the government’s intentions to have a strong anti-corruption body.

The home minister said the next meeting of the committee has been deferred because Hazare had said he was not available on that day.

On the post-midnight police action on Ramdev and his followers at Delhi’s Ramlila ground, Chidambaram said he was saddened that one woman was critically wounded.

“I have immense sadness in my heart at the condition of Rajbala,” he said, adding that 39 civilians were injured in the police action.

“All but four were discharged. Two of them had fractures and were discharged, one underwent surgery. It’s only Rajbala who has suffered injuries and is critical. I am very sad. We have reached out to the family. I wish to say no more at this stage. I sincerely hope that I get an opportunity to meet the family,” Chidambaram said.

He dismissed reports that there was difference between the government and the Congress in dealing with Ramdev’s anti-corruption campaign.

“We don’t have an Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj dual act in our party and government. Nor do we have the kind of dualism that was exposed between Jaswant Singh and L.K Advani post-Kandahar. We speak in one voice. We have a division of responsibility but we speak in one voice and act together,” he said.

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