Terming the eviction of Baba Ramdev from the site of his hunger strike and the crackdown on his supporters as “naked fascism”, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani on Sunday demanded an apology from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi for the police action.
Mr. Advani also appealed to President Pratibha Patil to call an emergency session of Parliament to discuss the issue.
“This is naked fascism… The Prime Minister and the Congress party president, who is also chairperson of the alliance that she leads, owe an apology for having allowed the police to behave the way they did,” he told reporters.
Mr. Advani, who was here to attend a wedding, convened a press conference at short notice to express his views on the removal of Baba Ramdev, who was on a hunger strike at the Ram Lila grounds in New Delhi demanding concrete action to bring back black money stashed in foreign countries. He said he was returning to Delhi to participate in the party’s deliberations on its course of action.
“Reminds me of Jallianwala Bagh”
He expressed surprise that the government, which was negotiating with the yoga guru to persuade him to give up his fast, suddenly cracked down on his supporters. “You not only arrest him, you beat up all men and women, children and old people… in a manner which reminds me, at least, of the action of the British at Jallianwala Bagh at Amritsar.”
Seeing a parallel between the events of June 1975, during which Emergency was imposed and several opposition leaders arrested, the former Deputy Prime Minister said, “I have a feeling June 2011 is also going to become another turning point in the history of the country.”
He said the President should take cognizance of all events that had taken place in the last six months – the surfacing of scams in the conduct of the Commonwealth Games, the allocation 2G spectrum and the use of defence land in Mumbai for a housing colony – and convene an emergency session of Parliament. It should discuss three issues — “how deeply the government is enmeshed in corruption, the issue of black money and the crackdown on those who raised this issue”.
“I request the President that she should not be a passive observer,” Mr. Advani said. “The whole country expects her to be more proactive than she has been.”
Decrying the criticism that Baba Ramdev’s movement was being backed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Mr. Advani said this was nothing new. “Even Jayaprakash Narayan was accused of this (when he led the anti-Emergency movement), but had it not been for the Jan Sangh and the RSS, the Sangh Parivar, Emergency would not have ended.”
He expressed surprise that Baba Ramdev was “being abused left and right”. He had great regard for him for taking yoga to the people and also for endorsing his own call for action in 2009 to retrieve black money.
Answering a question on the Lokpal Bill, Mr. Advani said corruption in the country was not a result of lack of laws, but the lack of political will to punish offenders, especially if they belonged to one’s own party.
“Not happy with Karnataka”
Asked if this was not true in the case of the BJP government in Karnataka, Mr. Advani said, “I am not happy with what is happening in Karnataka. The party is also taking corrective steps. In other states, where the BJP or NDA (National Democratic Alliance) is in power, their performance is really exemplary.”
Mr. Advani said he had congratulated Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa after her party’s victory in the Assembly election. He would have liked to call on her and discuss the present political situation, but for the developments in Delhi.
He said her victory was of national significance. “I had indicated that had it not been for her victory, it would have been said corruption was not a matter to voters.” Asked whether he would invite Ms. Jayalalithaa to join hands with the BJP for the parliamentary elections, he said the situation had not come yet.
At one point, while criticizing the Congress-led government for its inaction on corruption and mentioning that a former minister now in jail (former Communications Minister A. Raja) had said he had done everything with the Prime Minister’s knowledge, Mr. Advani said one could not make the DMK a “scapegoat” for everything. For instance, the DMK had nothing to do with the events in the Ram Lila grounds on Saturday night.
Asked later whether he was absolving the DMK of any blame, he clarified that he had used the word “scapegoat” only in the context of the Prime Minister blaming the “compulsions of coalition politics” for his inaction on corruption.
On DMK president M. Karunanidhi’s remark that “undesirable associations tend to result in adverse consequences”, Mr. Advani said the DMK leader was perhaps talking out of personal experience. Hindu