India, Original Articles

The Sanyasi’s knotty politics

A bearded man running around in women’s clothing, on national television, even as lathi wielding police officers chase him all over the place; is a moment that is one of the most repugnant pictures that defines where the country’s latest fascination – the anti-corruption revolution is heading.

The UPA government and its biggest party, the Congress is a pro at handling dissent, revolutions and the good old hunger strikes. However, its recent misadventures with the public protests and the activists who have become  rallying figures for a public anger makes one wonder about what went wrong.

The saffron-clad, yoga expert is a man who broke on the national stage owing partly to his yoga and primarily his star-studded fan following. Baba Ramdev’s wealth and ability to increase TRPs have created delusions of political grandeur that finally metamorphosed into (like all other things in India) his foray into politics. And his cause – Repatriation of billions of dollars of black money in Swiss banks to India, for the baba believes this is India’s answer to wipe off its poverty.

Baba Ramdev’s hijacking of the corruption issue from Anna Hazare and group is not a mere coincidence. He expects rich dividends for his support, political and financial. When he failed to equate himself with Anna Hazare as he hoped, he suddenly took a dig at members of the Lokpal joint committee. For all his claims that about not being propped up by the RSS, Baba Ramdev was riled with Anna Hazare’s refusal to let Ram Madhav, the RSS spokesperson to speak at the Jantar Mantar agitation. The result, he promptly changed his stance on the Prime Minister being included under the ambit of the Lokpal Bill.

The fact that Baba Ramdev is the face of the anti-corruption movement in India is the worst thing that could happen to the movement. The anti-corruption movement may jolt the UPA government out of its self-imposed slumber, what with its media hoopla and ‘people sentiment’ et all. However, all it really proves is that the Indian middle class, swayed by their leaders, believes that it can side-step political process and bring about revolution. It is the naivety of this notion that lends credibility to the likes of Baba Ramdev and lets the Indian masses celebrate moments of short-lived hyperbolic feats. They will soon find that, instead, it will leave them disillusioned, disappointed, and very angry.