Anna Hazare vs Baba Ramdev: The Contrasting Faces Of The Anti-Corruption Movement

Posted on August 12, 2012 in Politics

By Nikhil Ravishankar:

Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev have been two key figures in the anti-corruption movement in India for the past one year.

Anna Hazare’s initial approach of fasting with a specific demand of the passing of the Jan Lokpal bill came across as an honest method that could actually work. People came out on the streets in huge numbers shouting slogans against the government. Baba Ramdev, on the other hand, made demands to bring back the black money stashed in tax havens abroad. For a neutral observer, it was apparent who among the two, had a better understanding of corruption and the government. Various sections of the media were quoted as saying, “Maybe, Baba Ramdev should just stick to his yoga.” Baba Ramdev didn’t, he continued with his campaign.

Surprisingly, Anna Hazare indefinite fast against corruption last month did not attract many people, Last year, millions came out to support him and the government had to sit up and take notice. But this week, Baba Ramdev’s three days fast at Ramlila Maidan has drawn thousands of supporters.

The main factor behind the lost faith of public in Team Anna is their failure to take any concrete step which according to them, they are trying to rectify by starting a political party of their own. Although Baba Ramdev also failed to take any concrete steps, his demands such as bringing black money back to the country appeals to the common Indian. With hoax SMSs and e-mails doing the rounds that if all the black money stashed abroad could be brought back, one could distribute 1 lakh rupees to every Indian and still have lots of money left, Ramdev’s demands are holding a lot of promise.

And then, there have been the corruption allegations against key members of team Anna such as Kiran Bedi and Aravind Kejriwal as well. Although, none of the allegations were proved to be true, the media hype instilled in the minds of the public that Team Anna wasn’t as clean as they were projected to be. And then there was the Campaigning-against-Congress controversy which quickly led Anna Hazare to campaign against all political parties and provide justifications for the same. Baba Ramdev had his fair share of controversies in the past too, most prominent being the arrest of his close aide, Balakrishna, on charges of forgery.

However, it was Team Anna that was given maximum attention by the government and the media. In an unprecedented move, the government even formed a committee consisting of members of the government as well as members of civil society. During the peak of the Anna Hazare movement, news channels devoted 90% of airtime to Anna Hazare making him a household name. While there was a lot of media attention on Team Ramdev as well, they have been dismissed by top political brass.

While Anna Hazare has announced his plans of forming a political alternative to the NDA and the UPA, Baba Ramdev has in the past, made no secret of his political ambitions. Also, L.K. Advani recently remarked that there would be a non-NDA, non-UPA government at the centre in 2014.

It would be interesting to see if Team Ramdev and Team Anna merge into one, given the fact that both of them desperately need each other’s support if they are dreaming of coming to power in 2014.