M A I N   N E W S

Talks fail, Ramdev’s fast on
Not possible to resolve issues in a day, says Sibal after 5-hour marathon meet
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, June 3
The five-hour marathon meeting between the government representatives and Ramdev today managed to bridge some of the differences between the two sides but failed to deter the yoga guru from going ahead with his indefinite fast from tomorrow to protest against corruption and black money.

Union Ministers Kapil Sibal and Subodh Kant Sahay, who were deputed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to meet Ramdev, responded to his lengthy wish list with a written fact sheet enumerating the action taken by the government to unearth black money and stem corruption, the measures which are in the pipeline and the steps which the Centre is willing to initiate to meet the yoga guru’s remaining demands.

After an exhaustive discussion on each of demands at the Claridges Hotel, Human Resource Development Minister Sibal emerged to state that the government had given a written assurance to Ramdev on his demands but all the issues raised by him cannot be resolved in a day as these have long-term implications. “We have responded positively to his suggestions and Swamiji will do what is right,” he added. On his part, Ramdev declared that there had been no breakthrough and that his plans to sit on satyagraha remained unchanged.

Government sources said though Ramdev responded positively to the steps being taken by the Centre on the issue of black money, he did not agree to its suggestion that he should publicly declare after their talks that he would only sit on a token two or three-day satyagraha. It is learnt that Ramdev had initially given his agreement to this suggestion when four ministers, including Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, had met him two days ago at the airport but he backed off at the last minute. Nevertheless, the government is not ruling out another round of talks to build consensus which, it believes, is still possible as Ramdev’s overall tone and tenor had been quite positive.

While Ramdev went on to address his followers after the talks, Sibal and Sahay drove straight to Prime Minister’s residence to brief him about their discussions. A lengthier meeting with Pranab Mukherjee followed. The PM also briefed President Pratibha Patil on the ongoing dialogue with Ramdev. The government is keen to defuse the situation at the earliest as it does not want it to snowball into another movement as witnessed in the case of Anna Hazare’s fast in April.

The Centre drew solace from the conciliatory note struck by Ramdev in his address to his followers after the meeting in which he gave a detailed account of today’s discussions and the demands on which there was agreement. For instance, he said, the government had agreed to set up special courts for trial of corruption cases, conduct entrance tests of professional courses in all regional languages for which a committee will set up and prepare a database of Indians travelling frequently to countries considered as tax havens.

However, the government did not agree with his demand that currency notes of higher denomination be demonetised and death penalty be awarded to those found guilty of corruption. Declaring that he wanted a specific time-frame for the implementation of his demands, Ramdev also assured the Centre that his satyagraha would be peaceful and that it was not targeted against any individual or political party. “We are not here to topple the government,” he said, adding that The government, he said, had given a verbal commitment on declaring black money stashed abroad as a national asset he insisted that it should be notified officially. 

Supporters confident of victory
Syed Ali Ahmed/TNS

New Delhi, June 3
Thousands of Baba Ramdev’s supporters, who have landed in Delhi from various states to support their leader’s movement against corruption, said the government would have to accept the yoga guru’s demands. If corruption is controlled, India will become one of the powerful countries in the world, they claimed. “I have spent Rs 8,000 on air fare to come to Delhi to join Baba’s campaign against corruption. If the money deposited in foreign banks by senior politicians, film actors and others is brought back, the entire scenario of the country will change. No one will remain jobless and sleep hungry,” said R. Balasundram, who has come all the way from Coimbatore. Chanan Ram Chaudhary, a principal in Hanumangarh in Rajasthan, said public campaigns were the only way to force the government to take stringent action against the corrupt. 





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