The issue of corruption and the extent to which the government can go to “silence” those raising it has escalated into a full-blown crisis for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. This is after Delhi Police used tear gas and batons to evict yoga guru Ramdev’s supporters from New Delhi’s Ramleela Maidan.
Ramdev said the government had tried to “buy” his silence on the issue of return of black money stashed abroad. He did not specify what the government had offered him.
But the opposition picked up the ball, called it “nationalisation of corruption,” and ran with it. Civil society activists, including Anna Hazare, put pressure and said they would not take part in any talks with the government that were not telecast publicly. The Samajwadi Party, a UPA ally, criticised the government’s action.
The government and the party, at a late evening meeting at UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi's residence, decided to combat criticism by saying it was coming from “communal forces”.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led opposition attacked the government, demanded an apology from the prime minister and the UPA chairperson and decided to start another satyagraha. BJP leader LK Advani asked the President of India to immediately convene Parliament so that this issue could be discussed. But, the crux of thinking in BJP was gratitude that corruption – an issue that civil society, Ramdev and others had hijacked – could now be leveraged to launch a political attack on the government.
“It had seemed to us that the reins of the opposition had shifted out of our hands into those of the civil society. Now, we’ve got back control,” said a member of the party’s National Executive.