New Delhi, June 4: Sadhvi Ritambhara shared the dais with Baba Ramdev today, triggering disquiet in the Anna Hazare group, although her presence should not have come as a surprise given the yoga practitioners links with the RSS.
The saffron-robed sadhvi, an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition, was greeted with chants of Bharat Mata ki jai when she showed up in the morning at Ramlila Maidan, Ramdev having officially begun his fast against black money at midnight on Saturday.
The presence of the sadhvi, whom Ramdev referred to as pujya didi ma (revered elder sister), set off a churn in Hazares plans, with the Gandhian leader appearing non-committal on whether he would join the fast tomorrow.
I will go to Delhi tomorrow and will discuss then what would be the form and direction of the satyagraha, he said.
Swami Agnivesh, who belongs to the Hazare group, said it was wrong to invite a Babri accused who had a known communal ideology. Prashant Bhushan, another Hazare aide, echoed him and said the sadhvi should not have been allowed on the dais.
Ritambhara confined herself to reciting poetry and singing Ramdevs praises, and referred to Muslims as brothers and companions. She had come into the public eye after she accompanied L.K. Advani on his 1990 Ayodhya rath yatra and made insensitive remarks against minorities.
All those who want to see this country enlightened and awakened are all here. Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains and our companions of Islam are here…. We are people who cannot auction our dharma or sell our integrity for pieces of silver, she said in chaste Hindi today.
Ramdev is fulfilling the duty of a mendicant. He lives for the nation. His caste is all of mankind…. If Vallabhbhai Patels legacy had prevailed, then he wouldnt have had to fast. Yesterday he went to Rajghat. Gandhis soul must have been happy that after so many years someone has chosen to offer satyagraha.
The sadhvi said she would fast at home as long as my brother Ramdev shunned food. This fire within you will burn the garbage of corruption. This is a war of thoughts…. This movement will go on till sushasan (good rule) and Ram rajya (the reign of Lord Ram) is established.
Ramdev told reporters in the evening he had known Ritambhara for 15 years and seen her work in the Vatsalya Gram destitute shelter in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh. Those who see communalism in culture are blind to truth and mentally unstable.
The yoga practitioner has been very close to the RSS despite his public assertions against communal forces. He has close ties with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, had joined the Sanghs gau-gram-raksha (save the cow) campaign and shared the dais with Ashok Singhal and Praveen Togadia during the VHPs drive to save the Ganga.
Late last year, he said no RSS leader had ever been associated with any terrorist activity at a time its workers were under a cloud for alleged involvement in various blasts.
The VHP is publicising Ramdevs fast on its official website and RSS mouthpiece Organiser has written editorials to support his cause.