When the Ramdev circus rolls into town
By Annie Banerji
Hundreds of devoted volunteers and followers are preparing a tent stretched across an area the size of four football fields, as scores of media personnel throng the site of yoga guru Swami Ramdev’s fast-until-death at New Delhi’s Ramlila Ground.
With several volunteers working day and night making arrangements for Ramdev’s impending indefinite fast to retrieve black money and formulate stringent anti-graft laws, preparations for this grand personal campaign, which is expected to draw several thousand supporters, are in full swing.
From the entrance to the end of the ground, there are volunteers scurrying about with duties ranging from construction of the sprawling waterproof tents to installation of lights and fans. Followers of Ramdev started pouring in to the city from all over the country a week ago.
“Our country has so much potential, but we are all spiritually and morally lost. The key is to reach to the bottom rungs of society, to provide the rural population basic amenities and education of international standards. Swami Ramdev is our platform to improvement,” said Shailesh Nage, one of the organisers of the event.
24-hour water supply has been provided to ensure the efficient functioning of 600 toilet facilities and the 500 faucets which will provide filtered and purified water, for drinking and bathing. The open-air kitchen, which is supposed to serve thousands during this nine-day campaign starting June 4, is divided by a rivulet of muddy water — vegetables are chopped and utensils are washed on one side and food is prepared on the other.
Police and volunteers, in a combined effort, are taking the responsibility of security and crowd management through organised and state-categorised seating arrangements, sniffer dogs and the deployment of the bomb disposal squad.
Expecting over 10 million supporters in the capital’s scorching heat, the Delhi government has allotted central accident and trauma services (CATS) ambulances along with other essential medical assistance for the occasion.
Though the government tried to stymie the progress of Baba Ramdev’s anti-corruption efforts, his dedicated followers say that it is unimaginable to portend any kind of failure when it comes to their quixotic spiritual leader.