Will Team Anna, Baba Ramdev work in tandem?

In April 2011, Anna Hazare's fast against corruption at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi drew large crowds. The founder of Ralegan Siddhi galvanized the multitude with his demand for a strong Jan Lokpal. Round-the-clock media focus on the event meant that his crusade became immensely popular.

Anna Ramdev

Upset that the government did not heed their plea to introduce the Lok Pal Bill in Parliament, Team Anna staged their second protest four months later at the Ramlila Maidan in the national capital. More than 35,000 persons thronged the venue and the movement seemed to grow exponentially.

Meanwhile, yoga guru Baba Ramdev was pressing for the black money stashed abroad to be brought back to India. He sought to make common cause with Hazare but the latter's associates denied him a chance to share the stage with them due to his supposed Hindutva links.

At the fag end of the year, Hazare started a three-day fast at the MMRDA grounds in Mumbai while some members of Team Anna organised a hunger strike at the Ramlila Maidan. However, the overall turnout was quite low compared to the previous two rounds.

Observers noted that support for the movement dwindled mainly because a sense of deja vu had crept in. Another reason was the Lok Sabha passing the Lokpal Bill on December 27. Many preferred to stay at home and watch the engrossing debate in Parliament rather than brave the winter chill at the protest venues.

As the movement was in danger of running out of steam, Team Anna adopted a different strategy. They realised that joining hands with Ramdev could work in their favour as he has a large legion of followers. Hence the yoga guru and Hazare observed a joint fast at Janatar Mantar on Jun 3, 2012.

This time Ramdev was in the forefront. He said that if the Rs 400 lakh crore which Indians have supposedly deposited in foreign bank accounts is brought back, the country will become superior to the United States and China.

Ramdev pointed out that FDI in India worth Rs 20 lakh crore holds the 'key' to people involved in stashing black money abroad. "If the government names the actual owners of the FDI, the puzzle to black money will be solved," he stressed.

Ramdev also demanded to know from Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee why the rupee is falling and the GDP is diminishing. Describing the Prime Minister as a honest person, the yoga guru urged Manmohan Singh to ensure that his cabinet is "corruption free".

Arvind Kejriwal, a prominent member of Team Anna, expressed doubt over corrupt MPs like Lalu Prasad, A Raja and Suresh Kalmadi allowing the Lokpal Bill to be passed considering they are all embroiled in scams. Immediately Ramdev opined that taking names like this could create controversy. He added that their fight was not against individuals.

The fact that Kejriwal left soon after was highlighted in the media as a sign of the rift between him and the yoga guru. The former clarified that he had sought permission from Hazare and Ramdev for leaving as he was unwell.

Whether Team Anna has any difference of opinion with Ramdev is not clear as of now. The big question is will the two sides continue to work in tandem to achieve their common objectives? The answer will provide indications as to the future of the anti-corruption movement in India.

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