More than a year after the controversial midnight raid by police on his protest fast at the Ramlila Maidan, yoga guru Baba Ramdev was Thursday back at the same venue, this time to kick off a three-day fast to demand the government initiate steps towards a stringent Lokpal bill and bring back black money.
Addressing fewer crowds this time compared to last year's protest, Ramdev warned of a revolution if the government failed to accede to their demands but stressed that his protest fast was not aimed at "dislodging anyone from power".
The yoga guru's fast comes a week after Anna Hazare and his team ended their protest fast against corruption at the Jantar Mantar here to demand the government bring in the Jan Lokpal Bill for creation of an ombudsman to check graft.
"If our demands are not accepted, then there will be a language of revolt," Ramdev told the thousands who had assembled at the sprawling grounds here.
"We will decide on the next phase of our strategy if our demands are not met," he said, asking social and religious organisations across the country to fight collectively against the government.
Ramdev said the government would have to give in to the demand for a stringent Lokpal bill.
"The Lokpal bill should not be the government's version which will be weak," he added.
Ramdev said the three-day symbolic fast was part of the first phase of their protest and "If the government does not listen to our demands, I will announce our future strategy on Aug 12. We will not end our fast till our demands are met," he asserted.
The yoga guru also said he was not against any political party and was not interested in dislodging anyone.
"My doors are open to all political parties. My doors are also open to Sonia Gandhi (Congress president). I am not here to dislodge anyone from power," he said.
"We will go without food and water for three days. After that, we think about our future strategy," he told his supporters.
As he spoke, thousands of his followers holding tricolours clapped at his every statement.
He appealed to them to take out peaceful yatras and candle marches all over the country in support of their demands.
On the night of June 4-5, 2011, Delhi Police had swooped down on Ramdev's sleeping followers, including women and children at Ramlila Maidan during his anti-corruption stir in order to evict them. One of his followers, Rajbala, died of injuries due to the police action.
Meanwhile, a minor controversy was created Thursday over a poster in which Ramdev's aide Balakrishna was found alongside that of Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Subash Chandra Bose and other freedom fighters. After some television channels began running the story the yoga guru expressed regret.
"We regret this. I urge activists not to carry such posters," Ramdev said.
Delhi Police has given the organisers permission to host 30,000 people a day. The yoga guru has been allowed to hold the ground till Aug 30.
Thursday marks the 70th anniversary of the Quit India movement.
Before beginning his fast at the Ramlila ground, Ramdev paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh at Rajghat and Shaheedi Park respectively. The yoga guru arrived in the capital Thursday morning from Gujarat where he had been meditating since Monday at Vallabhbhai Patel's memorial.