Ramdev crowds lured by Delhi-trip carrot
Baba Ramdev and his aides claim that the thousands who congregated at Ramila Maidan in the capital this week came to extend support to his anti-corruption campaign. But for many in the gathering, it turns out, the visit was part of an all-expenses paid trip to Delhi.
Co-ordinated by local branches of Ramdev's Patanjali Yogpeeth, the turnout was less of a cadre mobilisation and more of a tourism initiative, a few slogans and a flick of the tricolour being a small price to pay for what was the maiden glimpse of the capital for many.
From Meerut in Uttar Pradesh to Falta in West Bengal, they came to attend a yog shivir but cannot stop raving about the wonders of Delhi. Suman, one of the office bearers of Patanjali, spoke with pride from the stage about the women from Bahadurgarh in Haryana who have come all the way to Delhi for the first time in their lives to support "Baba's noble cause" because he is the son of that soil.
Pankajbhai, who had come from Godhra, can barely hide his glee at having finally seen Delhi and the 'Taj Mahal' before his friends in the bus correct him "Taj Mahal nahin Lal Quila" (It is the Red Fort, not Taj Mahal). None of them have ever been to Delhi but now that the three-day trip is over, they cannot wait to get home because they have already missed out on farm work for five days. "The bus is supposed to leave at 5 pm that is why we came back. Anyway, the ground is wet," said one of them who does not want to be identified.
The evening snack of poori and aloo is the last reason to stick around for many of them. Some like Tinku from Jamshedpur are packing it in tiffin boxes. "We will take two days to go back so this will last us some time. The food was not very tasty here but they made sure there was enough at all times. That is why we did not mind missing a week of farm work to be here. It was mainly through word of mouth from the yoga teachers. It was a big thing, a free trip to Delhi," he says.