Baba Ramdev’s right hand man finds himself at the wrong end of the law. Shishir Prashant traces Balkrishna’s journey to power.
Ramdev’s Haridwar-based Patanjali Yogpeeth Ashram boastfully describes Acharya Balkrishna as a “great scholar of ayurveda, Sanskrit language and Vedas” and claims that he is “credited with rediscovering the Sanjivani buti,” a herb that was believed to have saved the life of Lakshman in the epic Ramayan. But behind the scenes, Balkrishna was more of a businessman than a Sanskrit scholar who helped Ramdev build a big empire at Haridwar. In Ramdev’s own words, his total assets stand at Rs 1,100 crore.
Balkrishna is now fighting for survival as CBI tightens its noose around him. CBI has registered a case of cheating against him. His whereabouts are not known. Though Ramdev stridently denies all charges against Balkrishna, CBI sleuths claim that most of the degrees as well as the passport acquired by Balkrishna are fake. CBI is investigating whether the acharya degree that he claims to have got from Sampurnanand Sanskrit Vishwavidyalya, Varanasi, too is fake. Authorities at the university say that according to their records, they never gave any such degree to Balkrishna. An eerie silence now prevails at Patanjali Yogpeeth with Balkrishna reportedly having gone underground. CBI has issued a lookout notice against him and also pasted a notice at his residence asking him to appear before the investigating agency.
Born to Sumitra Devi and Jay Vallabh of Nepal, Balkrishna met Ramdev at a gurukul in Haryana and the two soon developed a bond that would shape their destiny.
In 1990s, the duo came to Haridwar and set up Divya Pharmacy which gave Ramdev a big platform for name and fame. In the hours of crisis when Ramdev was driven out of Delhi on June 4, Balkrishna put up a brave front by taking the overall command into his hands. He also tried to refurbish the sagging image of Ramdev that had taken a beating after he escaped from Ramlila Maidan wearing the clothes of a woman.
Balkrishna is considered to be the founder of Divya Pharmacy where ayurvedic medicines with national and international certifications are manufactured with modern packaging.
He helped Ramdev set up Patanjali Yogpeeth Ashram which is spread across several hectares in Haridwar. While Ramdev focused on yoga, he left it to Balkrishna to shoulder the responsibility of all the businesses. Balkrishna is the managing director of all of Ramdev’s 20-30-odd companies. He is also the vice-chancellor of Patanjali University and heads various other trusts and institutes.
It was Balkrishna who championed the cause of the mega food park project with an investment of Rs 500 crore and sealed deals with Tetra Pak.
But after the June 4 Ramlila Maidan fiasco, troubles started for Balkrishna, especially after CBI registered a case against him on charges of forgery and cheating. The agency, which has requested the Ministry of External Affairs to revoke Balkrishna’s passport, claims that his Indian passport was made on forged documents and that he illegally owns a pistol.
Sources say a probe is underway to ascertain Balkrishna’s nationality to find out whether he is an Indian citizen or belongs to Nepal. Congress leader Digvijay Singh has also accused Balkrishna of committing crime in Nepal and later fleeing to India, a charge denied by the Nepalese government.