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Ramdev ends fast, vows to fight corruption

By The Assam Tribune

DEHRA DUN, June 12 (IANS): Nine days after his hunger strike against corruption triggered a political war, yoga guru Baba Ramdev broke his fast here Sunday following appeals from spiritual and religious leaders.

But close aide Acharaya Balakrishna said that while Ramdev, who is in hospital, was ending his fast, he would continue with his campaign against mounting corruption and black money.

"Today, I will end the fast on the appeal of holy people. But I take this resolution to lead this 'satyagraha' till the last breath of my life," Balakrishna, who was also fasting, quoted Ramdev as saying.

One of the first to break the news was Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Art of Living founder who had been engaged in hectic efforts to persuade Ramdev, 46, to give up his protest that was affecting his health.

"Baba Ramdev has ended his fast. He has taken (fruit) juice," he told reporters after meeting the yoga guru for a third time.

He said Ramdev ended his fast in the presence of religious and spiritual leaders.

Even as Ramdev's supporters gathered outside the hospital celebrated the development by raising slogans hailing him, others used the opportunity to lash out at the government.

While some saffron-clad Hindu religious leaders vowed to join hands in the anti-corruption drive, Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy took pot-shots at Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Describing the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government as "monstrous", Swamy said that Ramdev's fast was "successful". "The fight against corruption will continue."

Ramdev was shifted to the Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences here Friday after his condition worsened after keeping away from solid food for a week to demand that black money stashed by Indians abroad be seized.

Although doctors said Sunday that his condition was stable, he would not be discharged immediately.

"We will shift him to the general ward and keep him under observation for one or two days," said a doctor.

Since morning, a host of political leaders, including Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala and religious leaders like Murari Bapu, called on Ramdev.

With the Congress taking a vocally anti-Ramdev stand from the time he was forced out of Delhi by police after midnight June 4, Balakrishna sought to underline that the anti-corruption campaign was not "against any party or person in particular".

He said their aim was to "awaken" the people.

After Ramdev ended his fast, Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi gave a bland reaction: "good". His colleague Shakeel Ahmad attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

He said the BJP and the Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh (RSS) "must be sad and wondering why Baba did not perish as they would have gained huge political mileage out of the issue".

BJP's Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi hit out at the government.

"We shall support every person who stands against corruption, black money and terrorism," he said.

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