Ramdev, Sibal spar over disclosure of letter of understanding

Kapil Sibal made public a written undertaking by Ramdev that he will call off the strike by mid-day.

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.


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