Those whom the gods want to destroy, they first make them mad. And sheer madness it was to first accord a heroalt39s welcome to Baba Ramdev and then, in the dead of night, to treat him as a dangerous felon, fit to be e

xterminated from the national capital with the use of brutal force. Such clumsy handling of the popular Yoga gurualt39s challenge can only recoil on the ruling combine. The disjointed approach might have stemmed from the pressures of the 10 Janpath establishment but an already wounded government should have exerted its energies to avoid a confrontation. Now the Opposition will go all out to pin it down – and for good reason too.

Ramdev might have been ill- advised to string along a clueless government while seeking to persist with his show of strength. But the Government was downright foolish in swinging from over- confidence to a complete loss of nerve.

Ramdev was determined not to be seen as a ~ sarkari sadhu~. Senior ministers had initially massaged his ego, believing that they had already stitched up a deal, and that he would go through the motions of a protest before, as per the official script, calling it off in a blaze of mutual congratulations and sponsored celebrations. But such situations invariably defy scripts. The insincerity of the Government and Ramdevalt39s self- image as a superior force was a deadly cocktail which, unsurprisingly, blew up in the face of both on the night of Saturday- Sunday. Now both can go round peddling half- truths and half- lies. But because the Government has a poor case to argue on corruption, on bringing back black money stashed away in secret bank accounts abroad, it will have to pay a very heavy price in the coming weeks and months. There can be little doubt that the Government would now go after Ramdev. That would play straight into the hands of the Yoga guru. And, in turn, Ramdev will double his efforts to rail against corruption and black money, two evils popularly associated with the politicians in general and Congressmen in particular.

In his crude belief that the more vulgar language he uses against Ramdev, the more popularity he would gain among the minorities, Digvijay Singh only advertises his low opinion of the collective wisdom of the entire Muslim community.

He should find a more sensible way to win the Muslim vote. The Congress general secretary should realize that a very impressive mobilization by Ramdev against the very emotive issue of black money is a clear sign that the Government is in the dock. No amount of fudging can convince the people that it has done enough to bring back the billions salted away in secret banks abroad. Precisely because the credibility of the Government is low, Ramdev strikes a sympathetic chord among the people. The home- spun yoga guru may be ill- informed about the intricacies of domestic and international laws pertaining to the repatriation of illicit money in foreign banks. He may well over- pitch his demands. But Ramdev sure has his finger on the pulse of the people when he in his earthy idiom rails against the loot and plunder of the nation by the corrupt politician- businessmen- bureaucrat combine. Ordinary people who daily witness petty corruption in their mundane lives are only too eager to accept the instant solutions offered by Ramdev to deal with the scourge of illegal amassing of wealth.

There is little doubt that the Government has done precious little to reduce the menace of black money sloshing around in the economy.

Remarkably, during the parliamentary campaign Manmohan Singh had promised to bring back black money within a hundred days of his return to power. Nothing was done. Even when the Germans provided a CD containing the names of Indians holding illicit funds in a Liechtenstein bank, the Government chose to sit on its hands. It was only when the apex

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