Ramdev, Sibal spar over disclosure of letter of understanding
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Last Updated: Saturday, June 04, 2011, 22:31
New Delhi: A war of words broke out between Kapil Sibal and Baba Ramdev on Saturday after the Union minister made public a letter showing an undertaking given by the yoga guru's camp that he will call off the strike by mid-day.

An angry Ramdev termed it "cheating" and said he would never ever talk to Sibal, who was described by the yoga guru as a "betrayer".

During a press conference, Sibal distributed copies of a letter signed by Ramdev's close aide Acharya Balkrishna in which his camp gave a commitment to the government yesterday that they will call off the strike this afternoon.

Ramdev admitted that there was an understanding in this regard, but said he wanted to go ahead with the strike to ensure that government does not go back on its promise of giving him in writing that they have agreed to his demands.

"I will never ever in my life talk to Kapil Sibal. He has betrayed us...Now I will only go by what the Prime Minister assures," he said addressing media at the Ramlila Maidan where he was sitting on a hunger strike on the issue of black money and corruption.

The yoga guru faced a volley of questions on why he did not disclose the understanding with the government to his followers as well as to the media.

"If I had revealed it and if the people have left this place and if government has gone back on its words then what would have happened," he explained.

Sibal on his part said the government had no option, but to release the letter as Ramdev refused to call off the strike this afternoon as per the previous understanding.

"Ramdev has promised that he will call off the strike by this afternoon. We kept on calling him," Sibal said, adding that the government's initiative should not be seen as a sign of "weakness".

"We have already reached out, but we can also rein in. We are accommodative but we can also be firm," Sibal said.

Defending the decision to make public the communication, government sources said Ramdev was frequently changing position and they had to "call the bluff".

Sources said Ramdev's camp had made a commitment to call off the strike by 4pm and when it did not happen, then they had to categorically tell him that they were going to release the letter.

They also said Ramdev was making fresh demands everyday and many of the issues he raised later were not in the communication send to the government.

Ramdev told reporters that government were pressurising him to sign the letter but he did not do so and asked the General Secretary (Acharya Balkrishna) to do so.

"They told us that they want to show to the Prime Minister that I have given a commitment that I will call of the strike in two days."

Government sources said they had taken the letter to convey to the government that he had given a commitment to call off the strike.


First Published: Saturday, June 04, 2011, 22:31

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