Lucknow: Dubbing the police action on ”peaceful and unarmed” people at Baba Ramdev’s hunger strike as a ”shameful” chapter in India’s democracy, BJP today accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi of ordering the crackdown.
The party announced it would hold protests across the country against corruption and “police brutality” against Ramdev and his followers.
“The incident that took place yesterday at midnight at the Ramlila ground is one that has blemished democracy. Those people were protesting against corruption and black money through democratic means. But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi ordered the atrocities on these people,” BJP President Nitin Gadkari said in Lucknow.
Expressing similar sentiments in Delhi, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said the police action was carried out at the directions of the Prime Minister and had the “full approval” of the Congress President.
She said the crackdown was carried out after consulting Home Minister P Chidambaram and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal.
“This is not democracy…the police cannot alone had taken such a styep. It had the approval of the Prime Minister and full approval of the Congress President,” Swaraj said.
Her counterpart in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley said while government refuses to take action against separatist leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani who held a programme in the capital, it took action against a “patriotic sanyasi”.
“No action was taken againt Geelani who held a programme challenging the Indian state. A person accused of sedition (activist Binayak Sen) is included in a government panel. But a patriotic sanyasi has no right to protest,” he quipped.
BJP protested the use of tear gas and lathi-charge on women and children who were agitating at the Ramlila Ground along with Baba Ramdev.
“We strongly condemn this incident which happened at the behest of the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi. Protesting in a democratic manner is our Constitutional right”, Gadkari said.
He said “June always reminds us of the Emergency. In 1975, after the Allahabad high court judgement, Emergency was imposed. The same is being done now”.
“Women and children were attacked. They were lathicharged and tear gas was used. This reminds us of the Emergency days. We strongly condemn it,” he added.
BJP announced its leaders will hold ‘satyagraha’ (peaceful protest) across the country for the next 24 hours.
Sensing a political opportunity in the developments in Delhi, BJP cut short its meeting of office-bearers being held here today and asked its party cadre across the country to join the protest.
Senior BJP leaders will sit on a protest at the Rajghat in Delhi from today evening.
Interestingly, Gadkari did not mention Ramdev even once in his press conference here and spoke only about the “peaceful and unarmed” women and children who had to bear the brunt of police atrocities.
In reply to a poser on the support of BJP and the Sangh to Ramdev, Jaitley said his party supported the spirit of agitation of the yoga guru as well as Gandhian activist Anna Hazare.
“We may not even agree on some issues, but we do support the spirit of the agitations by Hazare and Ramdev,” he said.
Jaitley, however, dismissed suggestions that BJP or the Sangh had helped the Baba “strategise” his programme. “He has a big infrastructure to plan the movement,” he said.
Jaitley said the government has lost sense of statecraft and was working without an “gameplan”.
“On one hand they go all out extending a red carpet to Ramdev and on the other they use force at midnight to end the programme,” he said.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, meanwhile, equated the police action with the Jalianwalan Bagh incident and said saints across the country will launch an agitation at the district level to protest the crackdown.
“It is an insult to the saints. The saints will march to district collectorates demanding an apology from the government,” VHP President Ashok Singhal told reporters here.
He claimed the crackdown proved that the government was involved in corruption and not interested in bringing back ill-gotten money stashed abroad.
When asked to react on Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh’s claim that Ramdev was a “thug”, he said a he could not like to comment on a person who had addressed Osama Bin Laden as “bin laden ji”.