Baba Ramdev: Yoga Guru Leads Protest Against Indian Corruption

By ASHOK SHARMA 08/12/12 09:19 AM ET ( From: Huffington Post)

NEW DELHI — A popular Indian yoga guru fasted for a fourth day Sunday and threatened to expand his anti-graft protest nationwide if the government doesn’t act decisively to bring back billions of dollars of ill-gotten money that Indians allegedly have stashed abroad.

Baba Ramdev told thousands of cheering supporters at a sprawling fairground in the capital that he would announce an action plan on Monday to “intensify the protest across the country in the form of a people’s revolt.”

He asked his supporters to be ready to accept arrest, but urged them to be peaceful and shun violence.

“I will be the first person to go to jail and you follow me,” he said.

Ramdev and his supporters say they haven’t eaten for three days to pressure the government to accept their anti-corruption demands, including the creation of a powerful ombudsman to check government officials, an independent Central Bureau of Investigation, and actions to prevent tax evasion and the illegal stashing of money in overseas banks.

On Thursday, the government said a committee was working on a draft of an ombudsman bill that would be submitted to Parliament next month. The finance ministry is in the process of tightening laws to curb illegal transfers of money abroad.

Ramdev started his protest less than a week after anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare halted a separate hunger strike that failed to attract widespread support. Hazare and his backers said they would give up agitating and join politics instead.

Crowds have dwindled at the site of Ramdev’s fast over the past three days.

Millions of Indians tune in every day to watch Ramdev perform yoga exercises on his popular TV show. In the past few years he has used his popularity as a yoga guru to highlight his campaign against corruption.