Ramdev on the second day of his fast at Ramlila grounds. Picture by Prem Singh
New Delhi, Aug. 10: More than an anti-corruption protest, a theatre of the absurd seems to be playing out at the Ramlila grounds courtesy of Ramdev and his “think tank”.
Yesterday, they tried to portray the televangelist’s aide Balakrishna — in jail on charges of passport forgery —as a “martyr” by placing his picture alongside those of freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad and Mahatma Gandhi.
But the picture had to be hurriedly removed after many political parties objected to Balakrishna being placed on a par with freedom fighters.
Today, the drama was with two other pictures. First, they had to remove seer Jayendra Saraswati’s picture. The Kanchi sankaracharya is facing trial in a murder case.
Next, they had to remove a picture of Rajabala — she died of injuries suffered during the midnight crackdown by police on Ramdev’s June 2011 agitation — placed in a gallery of great martyrs’ pictures. But by then, Ramdev had already announced she was a “great martyr who gave up her life for a cause”.
As though that were not enough, Ramdev continued with his declarations. He first said India would win an Olympic gold medal for corruption; then he asked the Centre to “confiscate” all of India’s black money stashed in foreign banks.
“India will be a world superpower and its army stronger than that of both the US and China if the black money is brought back and spent on national security,” he said.
Next, he claimed black money was the root cause for the rise of terrorism and Maoist activities. He said bringing back black money would solve both problems.
“Many people say I have no agenda. The agenda is to save the country. The people of the country will ask the government and all parties to spell out their agenda.”
Ramdev put the black money stashed in foreign banks at a mind-boggling Rs 20,000 lakh crore and suggested that scrapping Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes would go some way in checking it. He also demanded death penalty for the corrupt.
As he stepped up his attack on the government, North Block came out with a 13-page fact sheet on black money, saying some Rs 49,325 crore in undisclosed income had been detected in India over the last three years.
The fact sheet, unusually issued on a public holiday, said a study on unaccounted money by three premier national institutes would be completed by end-2012.
It revealed that data gathered under tax treaties with Germany and France had led to the detection of tax evasion of Rs 600 crore and realisation of Rs 200 crore in taxes.