Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, who has been campaigning for the BJP in Rajasthan, was heard apparently chiding Alwar candidate Mahant Chandnath on camera for discussing what seemed like election funding issues in public, sparking a war of words between the Congress and the BJP over “black money”.
The video clip of the purported exchange was released by the Congress in Delhi on Friday and was said to have been recorded minutes before Ramdev and Chandnath addressed a press conference in Alwar on Wednesday.
The two are seen sitting on a stage with microphones in front of them and Chandnath is heard telling Ramdev, “Paise le aane mein badi dikkat ho rahi hai (We are facing difficulties in bringing money here).”
In response, Ramdev is heard saying, “Yahan mat baat karo. Bhole ho kya? (Do not talk about it here. Are you a fool?).”
Ramdev and Chandnath denied the conversation when local reporters asked them about it later. Chandnath is said to be one of two candidates recommended by Ramdev and is pitted against Union minister Jitendra Singh.
In Delhi, the Congress attacked the BJP over the video.
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“Modi and L K Advani talk big about unearthing black money. Will the BJP now withdraw the ticket of the party candidate from Alwar and seek action against him as well as against Ramdev? This double face is now being exposed, of Modi and Ramdev. He (Modi) attacks the Congress government but is himself looting Gujarat,” senior Congress leader and Union minister Kapil Sibal said.
Sibal alleged that Gujarat records an annual turnover of Rs 30,000 crore from illicit liquor trade, adding it was one of the three prime sources of black money in the country. “One can’t see as much Hindutva in Gujarat as illicit liquor…This (black money generation) is all happening under Modi’s watch…He keeps talking about fast-track courts. I want to ask him if he will set up a fast-track court to investigate the generation of black money in Gujarat,” Sibal said.
Sibal also referred to a speech of Modi in which he had said that black money is an outcome of “black minds” and asked, “Whose mind Mr Modi? Yours? Baba Ramdev’s or Mahant Chandnath’s?”
The BJP hit back claiming the Congress had done little to bring black money back.
“Law ministry has a role to bring black money back. Has Sibal taken any initiative to bring black money back?” senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said.