Baba Ramdev will announce his future strategy on Sunday morning when his three-day fast ends, said sources close to him, even as the yoga guru on Saturday said he will not stop the agitation till the central government responds to his demands, but change his methods.
Drawing an impressive crowd, Ramdev started his symbolic fast at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on Aug 9 for the return of black money stashed in foreign banks, a strong Lokpal Bill, and a transparent process in naming heads of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Election Commission.
He said he will not stop the agitation till the government responded to his demands, but agreed he needs to change strategy.
“Our principles will not change, but our strategy needs to change according to time,” Ramdev told his supporters at the Ramlila Maidan.
Later, after a meeting with his supporters, Ramdev said he will approach President Pranab Mukherjee and present him the letters of support from 1.5 lakh gram sabhas and 200 parliamentarians.
Addressing the gathering earlier, Ramdev said if an honest person hoists the flag on Independence Day, India’s prestige would rise in the world.
“If a person with clean hands hoists the tricolour, it will raise the country’ prestige. But, if it is hoisted by some dishonest person, then it will be disgraceful. How can it be that you have a tricolour in your hands and you do not have the tricolour in your heart.”
With 10,000 supporters at the Ramlila ground, Ramdev continued his fast on the third day with enthusiasm.
People from distant places have come to express support to Ramdev.
Rustam Ali, a 45-year-old tailor from Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district, has travelled a distance of about 1,100 km on bicycle to reach Delhi. “I have closed my shop for Eid, rode my bicycle for 11 days to come here,” said Ali.
He explained that the idea behind the cycle journey was to meet people on the way and make them aware of the problem of corruption.
Denying the general notion that the yoga guru’s followers only from northern and eastern India gathered at the venue, he said people from down south and west also came.
Vishwanath Jagannath, a 73-year-old retired army man and now a seer from Maharashtra’s Satara, said he had taken a loan of Rs.2,000 to join the agitation.
“I have left everyone at home, and spent the money to come here when back home it’s hard for me to afford a meal at times,” said Kalyan Kumar from Karnataka’s Raichur.
Though the sun and rains played hide and seek Saturday, the assembled people said they have no complaints of discomfort and would support the yoga guru in every way.
Septuagenarian Babulal Sharma from New Delhi was seen undergoing treatment for his backache at the medical counter of the venue. “I am suffering from severe backache but I am here because I have dedicated my life to my Baba,” said the 78-year-old.
There were many who too are fasting with Ramdev since Aug 9 like Omdeep Gupta, a 20-year-old student and yoga leader from Rajasthan’s Alwar.
“I am suffering from high fever since last three days. My temperature has not come down even after three doses of medicine but I am continuing with my fast,” he said.
Surendra Kumar, a general store shopkeeper from Amritsar, is also on fast and will continue to do so if the government does not respond to Ramdev’s demands.
“There have been around 2,000-3,000 diarrhoea cases since last three days,” an aide of Ramdev told IANS. There has also been increase in cases of flu and fever.
“There have also been reports of mobile thefts and pick-pocketing from the venue. However, none of these are able to break the spirit of the supporters,” he added.
Ramdev gave a three-day ultimatum to the government to address the issues he raised when he launched his fast Thursday.