For Raghuvanshi, who personally knows Ramdev, all the media clamour around the fast is “ironic”. Whilst “the Mahatma Gandhi fasted for 21 days, taking only water and salt, and Jatin Das died after 63 days of hunger strike, this yoga guru couldn’t resist even ten days.”
Many in India have accused him of illegal activities, and want to find out how he amassed his huge wealth. “How did Baba Ramdev build a billion-dollar empire?” asks Raghuvanshi, an Ayurvedic physician who chairs the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR).
“There are also reports that indicate that his medicines contain animal tissue,” Raghuvanshi said, “as well many complaints about labour law violations. Corruption cannot be treated in the abstract. Why doesn’t Baba Ramdev have a social audit? He has not been accountable for his wealth and tycoon connections.”
Swami Adhokshjanand, (aka Shankaracharya or Master Shankara) from Govardhanpeeth Monastery, agrees. He too has accused Ramdev of acquiring assets illegally and, before complaining about foreign slush funds, the guru should publicly explain the sources of his wealth.
Likewise, even though the guru’s fast is backed by Hindu extremists, organisations close to the Hindu ultranationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have also called for transparency.
“A decade ago, Ramdev used to move on a bicycle,” said Baba Hat Yogi, national spokesman for Parishad Akhada, India’s leading organisation of sadhus (monks and ascetics). “Now he flies in a chopper. We demand an inquiry into the income and assets of the Ramdev ashram.”
Trivender Panwar also want to see more. “Baba Ramdev is shouting against black money to protect his own ill-gotten wealth. He is even planning to enter politics to protect his black money," said the president of the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (a BJP-affiliated party in the state of Uttarakhand).
“He claimed last year that a Uttarakhand minister had asked for a Rs 2-crore bribe from him for some favour. If he is so committed to weeding out corruption from India, he should disclose the name of the accused minister."
For many people, Baba Ramdev is more of a financial magnate than a yoga guru. Since 1995, he has built a yoga empire, from India to as far as a remote island in Scotland. His net worth is estimated to be around 11 billion rupees (US$ 240 million).