"As the UPA battles the political shocks that its handling of the Ramdev rally has evoked, there is a growing controversy over a letter that Baba Ramdev's aides wrote before the fast began. Union Minister Kapil Sibal says the letter had agreed to call off the fast even before it began, acknowledging the progress in talks.But speaking to NDTV, Ramdev's aide Devender Sharma, who was part of the talks with the government, says Ramdev wrote the letter because the government was brow beating them into cancelling the dharna. Calling it a legitimate tactical move that fooled the government, the Ramdev camp now claims that without the letter, their protest would have been cancelled."Watch the full NDTV interview HEREThe key take away from the whole NDTV interview was the image of Devender Sharma, a key aide of Baba Ramdev committing one faux pas after another. Try hard as Sharma did in defending Ramdev's actions, he only succeeded generating even more negative PR for the Ramdev movement.Devender Sharma chose to not give an explanation why a Baba Ramdev needed to carry out secret parleys with the Government. Sharma being a key member of Baba’s negotiating team is suggestive that perhaps he too may had no qualms on the propriety of this step. Compare this with the position of the Anna Hazare movement who all along demanded their entire negotiations with the government be televised for the sake of full public transparency. It is contrast like this that gives Anna Hazare a clear edge over Ramdev in their battle for leadership of the country’s anti-corruption movement and why the Ramdev movement eventually ended up losing the plot.However Sharma’s biggest gaffe was his revelation that the Baba Ramdev's negotiation team were basically playing games with the government. He admitted that they signed an agreement with the government to use the Ram Lila grounds for a yoga camp - an agreement they never intended to keep. They viewed this agreement as only a ploy to fool the government and instead conduct a fast, which is what they actually did. Showing no signs of remorse, Sharma boasted that their intention was to entrap the government and drew great satisfaction that they fell for it. He also spun this exercise of willful deceit as
“a remarkable tactic or strategy”Here lies my basic disappointment with Devender Sharma. No matter how lofty the goals pursued, this kind of duplicity was not only uncalled for but treachery at its finest. Barkha Dutt, NDTV’s seasoned anchor immediately understood how incriminating Sharma’s confession was. So she re-stated it again -
“So you are saying that when you signed the agreement you are laying a trap for the government?”
Presumably, this was the point when Sharma realized that he goofed up badly. But by then, it was too late. The damage was already done. Ramdev and his negotiating boys were inadvertently exposed by Devender Sharma as crafty schemers plotting to fool the government to grant them permission to use the Ramlila grounds on a false pretext.So betrayed, no wonder the government got so miffed that they displayed their anger by unleashing the police at midnight to forcibly evict Baba Ramdev and his supporters from the Ramlila Maidan. Obviously such an action was not possible without being cleared at the highest level and their intention was to convey this as a strong message across to the likes of Ramdev viz. never mess with the government.
Unfolding later events of high drama left Ramdev as a national laughing stock while giving cartoonists a field day. The 46-year-old yoga guru almost gave the police a slip by jumping from the dais in Ramlila Maidan and vanishing into thousands of his supporters. Ramdev hid behind women and finally ran away wearing female clothes, leaving his followers to face the consequences of his mobilization!Ultimately caught, he meekly submitted to his captors. He was caught outside the protest site while posing as an injured woman wearing a white-coloured salwar suit with his head covered with a dupatta. At the time of arrest, he was pretending to be moving with the support of two women around whom he put his arms. By the time it was over, his claim to leadership of an anti-corruption movement was shattered by exhibition of cowardice.However, Devender Sharma tries to spins this cowardice into an act of bravery by using the Shivaji analogy of hiding in a basket of fruits to escape his enemies. Baba Ramdev also tried to reinforce the image of Shivaji when he claimed that the intention of the government was to physically eliminate him. The government may not have exactly covered themselves with glory in handling of this crisis. But to expect government’s buffoonery to extend to a brazen plot to kill Baba Ramdev seems far-fetched by any stretch of imagination.
Till this incident, Baba wore the mask of the Mahatma. But once it was removed in exchange of a Shivaji’s mask, the bridge to go back playing the Mahatma was once for all burnt down. Who dare now claim Ramdev as a modern day Gandhi with his critics reminding us that Gandhiji courted arrest without hesitation when the police came to arrest him and not like Ramdev trying every trick in the book to evade arrest.That Ramdev is no Mahatma is besides evident from their differing capacities to fast. The Mahatma once fasted 21 days in a single stretch to promote respect and compassion between people engaging in communal riots due to deep hatred for each other. But by the 5th day of Randev’s fast, he had to break this by taking lime juice and honey and by the 7th day, he was rushed to hospital, given intravenous injection of glucose. By the 9th day, he broke his fast, without any of his demands being met.Ramdev’s gimmicks aside, it was pathetic to watch Devender Sharma a renowned member of civil society taking to the Machiavellian "the end justifies the means" argument . One blog tells the dangers to this:“If the vision, the goal which we have set ourselves is incomplete or flawed, then the worst thing that could happen to us is to accomplish that goal with all means necessary.
At that point, we would realize that the goal we have set ourselves is not the goal we have desired - we have failed to clearly create our vision. ..And when you do, no amount of justification will help you.”
So did Ramdev fail Devender Sharma or did Devender Sharma fail Ramdev? Or did they both simply fail each other?