The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Secular allies dump CPM over Ramdev

New Delhi, Jan. 5: Even the last of the CPM’s “secular” allies today deserted it in the battle against Ramdev, which reached street level this morning with an attack on the party’s Delhi office by the yoga guru’s followers.

The assorted “RSS and Arya Samaj” mob achieved little apart from yelling slogans and throwing a few stones, but Lalu Prasad and Congress leaders left their Marxist ally virtually isolated with only fellow communist CPI for company.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal leader linked Brinda Karat to multinationals and equated himself with Ramdev as he echoed the charge of conspiracy levelled by the BJP and the “godman” himself. “MNCs are against people like me and Ramdev. They are against those who propagate indigenous cause.”

Brinda, CPM politburo member and MP, has alleged that Ramdev’s miracle “herbal” cures contained animal parts, including bones, and a powder made from human skull ' a claim confirmed by the Union health ministry’s laboratory tests.

Lalu Prasad dealt with it in his usual jocular vein, wondering if it really mattered whether the medicines contained bones of “manav ya danav” (humans or devils) as long as they increase longevity.

Samajwadi Party boss Mulayam Singh Yadav ' whom the CPM has always considered a friend ' has already expressed support for Ramdev on the same lines as Lalu Prasad.

The Congress maintained silence. But its leaders said in private the party cannot support the Marxists because that could hurt its chances in the 2007 polls in Uttaranchal, where Ramdev’s “medicine” factory is located.

The Himalayan state’s Congress chief minister N.D. Tiwari, accused by Brinda of patronising Ramdev, has already dismissed the issue as “personal” between the MP and the yoga guru.

So far, this is the only comment from a “secular” ally that the CPM has protested against, describing it as “extremely surprising and unfortunate”.

The Centre, following the lab tests, has put the onus of investigating Ramdev on the Uttaranchal government, citing the technical reason that it was not the central government that had collected the samples (it was Brinda who did).

The MP had been given the samples by workers of Ramdev’s Divya Yog “pharmacy” in Hardwar, with information on the contents. Ramdev has sacked 133 labourers on this ground. Brinda has also accused the factory of flouting labour laws, overworking and underpaying workers.

Neither she nor her husband, not even Sitaram Yechury, was in the party office when a mob gathered this morning, burnt her effigy and stoned the building before being driven away by police.

“There must have been 50 people. Most were either from the RSS or Arya Samaj,” an office staffer said. “No senior leader was at the office. We went out and shouted slogans back at them.”

Prakash Karat clarified from Hyderabad that his party was not against yoga or ayurveda; it was only against Ramdev’s “fraud” on the public.

The lone voice of support came from the CPI, which said: “The so-called godmen and gurus are not above the law and not above disclosures about their business.”

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