Joining forces against the government, yoga guru Baba Ramdev and activist Anna Hazare on Friday said the duo will launch a nationwide campaign for a strong Lokpal and return of black money from May 1. The two leaders have also announced plans to sit on a day-long token fast in Delhi on June 3.
"We need two movements to bring back black money and for a strong Lokpal. I will sit on a token fast with Anna on June 3. We will start an agitation from Durg in Chhattisgarh from May 1. Anna will also start his yatra from Shirdi from May 1," Ramdev said.
Buoyed by the success of the Jantar Mantar fast last month, Hazare reiterated that he was planning a strong campaign for August. Incidentally, the two leaders have shared an uneasy relationship in the past one year. While Ramdev was part of the Jan Lokpal agitation in last April, there was a fall-out between Team Anna and the yoga guru. Team Anna members expressed discomfort with Ramdev's closeness to saffron outfit RSS and there was some distancing between the two groups after the April, 2010, stir.
However, these differences appear to have been brushed under the carpet now, with waning interest in the Lokpal movement. In a bid to revive mass support, Team Anna has agreed to coordinate their respective movements and share a platform with Ramdev.
"We have decided to join hands and we are fighting for the country. We all know what the ground realties are. Out of one rupee even 10 paisa does not reach the villages due to corruption,'' said Hazare.
"We are not interested in toppling the government. We only want government to listen to people's voice. But we will not hesitate if the government falls due to the movement," he added.
Ramdev said he would observe a symbolic fast with Hazare and others on June 3 to mark the completion of one year of the beginning of his movement to bring back black money stashed abroad.
It was on the intervening night of June 4 and 5, 2011, when the Delhi Police had cracked down on Ramdev's protest at Ramlila Maidan that saw many people injured of which one victim later died in hospital.
"If the black money comes back, our economy will improve. Black money must be brought back... Corruption must stop and for that to happen the Lokpal is a must," the yoga guru said.
Criticizing the government for policy paralysis, Ramdev said, "This morning, I saw Kaushik Basu has said that because of this government, growth has slowed and it will not improve till after 2014. What is this government for if it is not ensuring growth.''
Ramdev said Hazare would accompany him for the token hunger strike in Delhi on June 3. He said the duo would hold public meetings together wherever possible.