After a major blow that BJP received recently in the Hindi heartland states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh during the elections in December, it runs across as Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev, who was a staunch BJP supporter is likely to shift his loyalties towards the opposition, looking at the change in the political scenario ahead of the elections this year.
The politician and the co-founder of a billion-dollar consumer products business, Baba Ramdev’s support was considered to be a crucial role for the BJP in the previous election. However, just before the 2014 elections, he made a series of public remarks backing Modi as the man to lead India. Nonetheless, it was just the beginning of a multi-pronged campaign by Ramdev in support of Modi. According to the reports, a communications firm called Social Revolution Media and Research Pvt Ltd were started by two directors from companies under the Patanjali umbrella. It held weekly meetings with the BJP’s information technology division to coordinate messages on Twitter and other social media platforms.
Apart from that, the members of Ramdev’s organisation described how hundreds of thousands of volunteers spread out to mobilise votes for Modi to win with a mandate in 2014. Narendra Shastri, a yoga teacher with a Patanjali trust and one of the volunteers had said that he worked from dawn to dark, ringing doorbells and handing out pamphlets backing Modi’s party. Two days after the election results were announced in 2014, a pair of senior BJP leaders attended a stadium event in New Delhi to thank Ramdev and his volunteers. Both had signed the pledges as shown in Ramdev’s video released earlier in that year.
BJP MP Sharad Bansode commented, “Ramdev was never anti-BJP. He is always in support of the party. Whatever statements he is giving doesn’t necessarily mean that he has gone against the saffron party. Even if he passes a statement supporting Rahul Gandhi, that does not mean he is in support of Congress.”
In June 2018, BJP President Amit Shah met Baba Ramdev as a part of his ‘Sampark Abhiyan’ to seek his help for the 2019 general election. While Shah assured his full support to Ramdev in all his Swadeshi projects and formation of the proposed Vedic Education Board, the latter by way of reciprocal gesture left no one in doubt that he and his followers would go all-out in lending support to Shah’s party at the upcoming hustings. However, a few months after the meeting, Patanjali owner Baba Ramdev said that he would not support any person or oppose any party in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Expressing his views on this, Baba Ramdev said, “I am an apolitical person, I am not bound by political limitations, Mother India is my first priority and my work is my religion. So, my only focus is that.” However, it is believed that this shift is also in retaliation to the change in the political scenario as BJP faced a drawback in Karnataka and Gujarat elections. However, he had also said in an interview that he won’t be campaigning for the BJP for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik stated, “There was a time when Ramdev used to claim himself to be independent and that he maintains good relations with all the parties. But now, it seems he has understood that the change of power is near at hand and changing his allegiance just as Mohan Bhagwat is doing.”
Later, Ramdev also challenged Modi government that it may prove to be costly in the next general elections if the price hike was not controlled. Former Rajya Sabha member and academician Bhalchandra Mungerkar expressed, “It’s evident that Ramdev has understood that Modi has failed to keep his promises made in 2014. Ramdev giving statements in favour of Congress can help the party in the upcoming poll.”
In 2012, Baba Ramdev called an indefinite fast against corruption and black money in the capital. While calling off the strike, Baba launched an all-out attack on Congress stating them responsible for the corruption taking place in the nation and had said that it is the most corrupt party in India. Baba Ramdev sprang in a surprise to all, in a yoga event organised in 2018, when he said that he is “on friendly terms” with Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut asserted, “It’s a fact that Ramdev’s anti-BJP stance might affect the party. There was a time when he was backing Modi, but the government’s decisions of Demonetisation and GST seem to have affected his business as well.”
Ramdev Baba has always managed to grab the limelight for all the wrong reasons. Now, before the elections, Baba has taken a midway to jump over the side of the winning party for his benefit.
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