How RSS, Ramdev Found Common Cause
- August-September 2010: RSS functionaries meet Baba Ramdev and discuss taking up corruption as an issue. They decide to float a forum to campaign against graft.
- October 2010: RSS informs BJP leader L.K. Advani and party president Nitin Gadkari of its plan to back the baba’s bhrashtachar mitao satyagraha
- March 2011: RSS adopts a resolution against corruption at its annual Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha held in Puttur, Karnataka
- April 2011: Ramdev meets RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in Nagpur. June 4 is fixed as the date for the fast unto death at Ramlila grounds.
- April 2011: Bhagwat visits Ramdev at his Haridwar ashram, hand-delivers a letter spelling out RSS support. Directive sent to all RSS cadres to support baba.
And What RSS Plans To Do Now
- Provide logistical support at Haridwar (pictured above). Find a dignified exit and distance itself from the baba without upsetting his supporters.
- Stick to the official line of supporting the baba. At the same time, ensure that the BJP continues to take on the UPA over police action at Ramlila grounds on June 4.
- Bring forward a group of sants to take up the issue of corruption. Make them the face of the movement. This is conveyed to the baba by Ashok Singhal of the VHP (panel left)
- Maintain just enough distance from Baba Ramdev so that the movement stays within the Sangh's fold and does not become a tool in the government's hand
When Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat took a written commitment to Baba Ramdev on April 7 of his organisation’s support for the latter’s bhrashtachar mitao satyagraha, he would not have foreseen that in two months, the maverick guru would be talking of armed rebellion. After his humiliating eviction by police last week from the Ramlila grounds in Delhi, his escape and arrest in women’s clothing, and cornered by the government over corruption charges, the baba has turned belligerent. Four days after his eviction, fasting at his ashram in Haridwar among visiting netas and disciples, he thundered: “The next time they do a Ravanlila at Ramlila, let’s see who gets beaten up.” For the Sangh, the image of a pliable mascot was quickly dissipating. The baba’s call to arms, to train an army of youth in shaastra-shastra (scriptures and weaponry), which might have been uttered in a spell of heat, rekindles the picture of right-wing terror, which the Sangh is keen to dispel. Realising this, the baba shrewdly corrected himself, saying that all he meant was to train volunteers in traditional methods of self-defence to handle difficult situations. But he remains strident as ever, and, to be sure, the Sangh is in a tizzy.