Baba Ramdev ‘s campaign against black money appears to have earned him many enemies among the political class as well as seers.
The Akhil Bhartiya Akhada Parishad, one of the leading groups of sadhus, is planning to write to the Prime Minister and the President seeking a CBI inquiry into the assets and wealth of the yoga guru.
The national spokesperson of the Akhada Parishad, Baba Hat Yogi, said: ” A decade ago, Ramdev used to move on a bicycle. He even had to struggle to find money to fix his punctured cycle. Now he flies on a chopper. We demand an inquiry into the income and assets of the Ramdev ashram.” Hat Yogi wasn’t alone; a demand for a probe into the baba’s assets also came from Trivender Panwar, president of the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal that recently withdrew support from the Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank government in Uttarakhand.
” Baba Ramdev is shouting against black money to protect his own ill-gotten wealth. He is even planning to enter politics to protect his black money,” Panwar alleged. ” He had claimed last year that one Uttarakhand minister had asked for Rs 2-crore bribe from him for some favour. If he is so committed to weeding out corruption from India, he should disclose the name of the accused minister.”
The outbursts against Ramdev come just days after a Congress MP in Arunachal Pradesh allegedly abused him when he talked about corruption at a spiritual camp at Pasighat in the East Siang district.
Many claimed that the popularity and political clout of Ramdev had made a lot of people jealous and they were now making allegations against him. But they, too, agreed that the baba should disclose his assets.
The yoga guru, however, remained unfazed. Hitting out at his critics, he told the Aaj Tak news channel: “We are ready for any inquiry. The central government has conducted such investigations twice and they are welcome to do so again. Is it a sin to speak about corruption in India?
Five crore people have donated for the development of our ashram. We will hold rallies on February 27 and March 23 in New Delhi against the failure of the Congress government to bring back to India the black money stashed away in foreign banks.” His detractors dismissed his aggressive stance as mere posturing and alleged that his ashram was involved in many dubious activities. Baba Hat Yogi said: ” In 2006, Mahant Shanker Dev of the Divya Yoga Mandir disappeared under mysterious circumstances. An independent inquiry should be conducted on the missing Mahant.” The phenomenal rise in the wealth of the trust run by the yoga guru in the last few years has raised many eyebrows.
According to a rough estimate, the Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust has property worth more than Rs 1,000 crore in Hardwar alone.
These include a 300-bed multi specialty hospital, a yoga research centre, a university, an ayurvedic pharmacy, a food park and a cosmetics manufacturing unit.
Swami Ramdev is even reported to have acquired a Scottish isle for about Â£ 2 million a few years ago to set up a wellness retreat. According to unconfirmed reports, Patanjali Yogpeeth has also acquired major stakes in the Aastha TV channel.
The channel used to telecast Ramdev’s daily yoga classes which helped him become an international figure.
Swami Ramdev’s critics demanded to know where the funds to acquire these assets came from.
Patanjali Yogpeeth’s general secretary Acharya Balkrishna insisted that the ashram’s records were clean. ” We maintain total transparency and keep an updated balance sheet. We have property mainly in Hardwar and land in some parts of India which are yet to be developed,” he said.
” The ashram is making progress because of the support and donations from our followers. Those criticising us should ask the government to demand inquiry into the trust and organisation operated by the Gandhi family,” he added.