It is an interesting battle, the one being waged between Marxist Brinda Karat and the yogi, Baba Ramdev.
I have no personal acquaintance with either, and any opinion is limited to and based on their sound bytes (in Ramdev’s case watching his yoga discourse) on television.
Ramdev, of course, must be the country’s most popular yogacharya. I have heard of people converting to yoga merely after watching him on Astha channel.
He is clad only a saffron dhoti that exposes most of his body, which is obviously fit. You can see him holding these yoga sessions in vast maidans; money is no deterrent for those who come here to learn yoga, I am told the front seats go for as much as Rs 15,000 per session. Suddenly he will pace up and down the stage on his hands, before starting on a round of kapalabhati.
I have heard of people who have altered their lifestyles after watching him on TV; I know of people who swear by him and his methods.
Ramdev is particularly harsh on the Coke giants, and advises his followers to use them, but to flush the toilet bowl clean. Be swadeshi, have pride in Indian culture, goes his plea.
Brinda Karat has run into Ramdev before as well, last June when she charged him with using bones etc in his ayurvedic preparations, a charge which she has now reiterated with what she says is clear evidence from the health ministry.
I found the yogi’s response particularly funny, when he accused her of working at the behest of multinationals out to get him. In her stint in public life Karat must have heard many negative things said about her, but never I am sure has she been called an MNC agent, a charge usually the Communists hurl at others. He has also offered to teach her pranayam.
I have no idea how the present faceoff will end. The Communists are, of course, all-powerful in the present establishment but Ramdev is not someone you can knock down easily. His following runs into millions, including the rich and powerful.