Baba Ramdev donated Rs 11 lakh to BJP ahead of 2009 elections
"Political affiliations? Me? No, no." Quiz Baba Ramdev on his political links and that is the reply you are most likely to get.But now, a Right to Information (RTI) query has revealed just how hollow Ramdev's claim of being apolitical is. The information given in the RTI reply indicates the yoga guru's inclination towards the nation's principal Opposition party, the BJP.
Haridwar-based Patanjali Ayurveda Limited, an organisation helmed by Ramdev, had donated Rs 11 lakh to the BJP just before the general elections in 2009.
This information was provided by the Election Commission to the organisation Beyond Headlines, that had filed the RTI petition.
According to the commission, Patanjali Ayurveda had donated the amount to the party through a Punjab National Bank cheque (number 859783) dated March 8, 2009.
Afroz Alam Sahil, a Delhi-based RTI activist who obtained these details, said: "Ramdev is donating the money that he gets from his bhakts (followers)."
Officials of the Patanjali Ayurveda Limited rubbished Ramdev's links with the BJP. "Baba Ramdev has nothing to do with the financial matters of the company. The organisation is being run by various followers of Baba Ramdev. He only looks after the quality and control of the products.
Moreover, the donations have nothing to do with Patanjali Yogpeeth, the main organisation headed by Baba Ramdev," Patanjali Ayurveda's managing director Acharaya Balkrishan Maharaj said.
"We have not done anything wrong. Whatever we have donated has been done legally. The decision to donate money to the BJP was taken by the management committee, which doesn't need permission from Baba Ramdev," Balkrishan added.
The BJP, too, tried to downplay the donations. "Baba Ramdev's company has donated the money to us. We get donations from various people organisations as well industrialists. We had informed the income tax department as well the Election Commission about this. We don't have any problem if anyone comes up with funds to help us," BJP office incharge Shyam Jaju said.
But he added: "If someone is giving us donations, they must have some sympathy towards us and our ideals." Ramdev had last year announced plans to float his own political party, Bharat Swabhiman. His party will field candidates in all 543 Lok Sabha seats.
The Divya yoga website lists the five targets that it wants to achieve as " 100 per cent voting, 100 per cent nationalistic thinking, 100 per cent total boycott of foreign companies and complete support to swadeshi, 100 per cent organisation of patriots and to make a healthy, prosperous and cultured Bharat" by using yoga.
With Ramdev floating a political party, the BJP was believed to have been perturbed that Hindu votes would be split.
" Ramdev says he does not expect much from the BJP and is unlikely to enter into a coalition with the saffron party. Then why has he donated this much to it?" Sahil asked.
Yoga guru's political colours
Way before he announced plans to float his own political party, Baba Ramdev had said of joining politics: " Neither in the past was I associated with politics, nor today do I have any association with politics. I will never join politics."
Then last year, Ramdev said he would float the Bharat Swabhiman party by June 2011. His party will field candidates on all 543 Lok Sabha seats.
The party aims to achieve " 100 per cent voting, 100 per cent nationalistic thinking, 100 per cent total boycott of foreign companies and complete support to swadeshi, 100 per cent organisation of patriots and to make a healthy, prosperous and cultured Bharat".
The BJP is a worried lot. Considering the number of followers Ramdev has all over India, the saffron party fears that fighting the polls against Bharat Swabhiman will split the Hindu votes.
Ramdev, as of now, has ruled out joining hands with the BJP. His party plans to go it alone in the next general election.