New Delhi: Ramdev-Anna Hazare combine on Sunday suffered a crack at the top when Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal made an abrupt exit from the joint fast venue of the activists after the yoga guru virtually snubbed him for taking names and making personal attacks on politicians.
Both the sides downplayed the incident claiming that Kejriwal, who is a diabetic, left the venue due to his health condition and there were no differences between the two groups which had come together two months ago after a year.
As he wound up the fast, Ramdev, who attacked UPA on the issue of corruption and black money, vowed to launch a fresh agitation in August to press for action to bring back black money stashed abroad.
The drama unfolded at Jantar Mantar, the fast venue, immediately after Kejriwal attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Cabinet colleagues whom Team Anna had accused of indulging in corruption and mentioned the names of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Jayalalithaa and Mayawati.
Ramdev picked up the microphone and said "today, we thought that we will not take any body`s name. But Arvind took the names...We don`t want any controversies. Arvind does not have any enmity with anyone. The names have been taken in some context. We are against personal criticism," he said.
In his speech later, Hazare appeared to defend Kejriwal and mentioned his close aide`s speech. "Arvind has just said people with cases against them are sitting in Parliament...To stop this, we must use right to reject," he said without elaborating.
However, he refuted suggestions about a rift in Team Anna or any misunderstanding with Ramdev and said the movement`s strength has increased with the association of the yoga guru.
Kejriwal also sought to play down the controversy and tweeted, "I had to leave fast venue because I am very unwell. I told this to Anna and Swamiji. It is wrong to say that I left in protest...I have greatest respect for swamiji."
Announcing his agitation programme, Ramdev said from
tomorrow, they will collect signatures from all villages across the country and pass it on to government on August nine and then launch another agitation to press for the demand to bring back black money.
He said he will also write to leaders of all political parties seeking their support on the issue of black money.
An estimated 5,000 to 6,000 were present at the venue braving the summer heat. The supporters, many of them carrying the tricolour, shouting slogans "desh ko bachao, kala dhan wapas lao" (save the nation, bring back black money).
While Ramdev and Kejriwal targeted the Prime Minister Hazare refrained from making any reference about any individual and pressed for the option for the right to reject candidates in elections.
Emphasizing the need for a strong Lokpal, Ramdev said that CBI is currently a pawn in the hands of the government and should be brought under the ambit of Lokpal.
Hitting out at the Prime Minister, Ramdev asked if he is honest what is his problem in bringing back black money and setting up a strong Lokpal.
He also chose to remind that scams like 2G, CWG, Adarsh and the most recent about the allocations of coal block took place with Singh heading the government.
"It is in your Cabinet that the 2G scam worth Rs 1.76 lakh crore, CWG and the greatscam in coal happened....Never before in the history has such weak persons occupyed the democratic instituations as today.
"When you do not have blackmoney, then what is the problem in bringing it back. If you are not corrupt, what is your problem in brining a strong Lokpal bill," he said.
Earlier in the day, Ramdev began his campaign issuing an warning to the government to get ready for "fight to the finish" by August and asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to make his Cabinet "corruption free."
"You (the Prime Minister) are an honest person
personally. People respect you for that. But you hold the high constitutional post. You have to take care of the political, constitutional and democratic responsibility.
"Your personal honesty is not enough. You have to be politically honest too. You have to keep your Cabinet honest. Then people will respect you (more)," Ramdev told his supporters.
Before beginning his fast, Ramdev said he was intensifying the protest to bring back black money stashed away abroad and "I want the countrymen to be part of the fight to finish by August".
Ramdev also invoked the name of Rajiv Gandhi saying when the former prime minister talked about only 15 paise out of a rupee reaching the beneficiaries, he was seen as an "ideal leader" but "when we talk about it, then we are called "khalnayaks (villains)".
Recalling the police crackdown on his supporters last year, Ramdev claimed it was "Ravan lila" played out at the Ramlila grounds.
"Even Mahatma Gandhi had said that India needs its own laws. But we still have British era laws like the one on land acquisition and the Police Act. We need to remove the archaic laws and have swadeshi laws," he said.