India! I dare you to be rich

Category Archive: Current Affairs

Need assistance to draft fact-finding RTI applications on Ramdev

To pursue the Ramdev matter further, I need assistance to draft RTI applications to the following:

1) Election Commission of India – re: action taken (if any) regarding Ramdev's support of clandestine use of black money by BJP candidate in elections.

2) Uttarakhand government – to find full details (including latest status) of the 81 cases they have started against Ramdev in relation to illegal/benami land matters and evasion of taxes

3) Himachal government - regarding the status of the land case.

4) Enforcement Directorate – re: the numerous cases of FEMA violations for which they have not yet absolved.

5) Ministry of Food Processing - re: the purpose for which the Rs.50 crores was given to Ramdev's food park, and whether that purpose has been met.

There may be a few other RTIs as well, depending on the information received.

If you have time and expertise in drafting RTIs and wish to assist in finding out the facts of the case, please contact me at sabhlok@gmail.com. 

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How did Ramdev get so much agricultural land for commercial purposes?

In 2012 Tehelka reported a massive story with significant details regarding land theft by Ramdev/ related persons.

Later, in November 2013, the Uttarakhand government started investigations against land theft. 

The CM of Uttarakhand said that "Ramdev had grabbed large chunks of land belonging to villagers and the government. Several pieces of property held by the Patanjali Trust turned out to be benami transactions with no trace of the owners, he said."

I've not had time to look through each of these well-detailed allegations. What's happened with the Uttarakhand case? 

How does Ramdev buy so much land, anyway, given that black money is the typical mode of purchase of land in India? Is this black money? Does he pay in cash? Anyone knows the answer?

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Is there something fishy about Ramdev and his “empire”? #3

Now for a broader set of issues re: Ramdev's "empire". Leaving aside his support for black money in elections and his waving away the issue of audit, I now have verbal information that his organisations are violating India's rules and regulations and generating black money for the relatives of Ramdev. I had heard such an allegation from one of Ramdev's relatives last year in relation to Yashpal Shastri (Ramdev's brother-in-law). Such allegation being hearsay, however, I was unable to act, nor had any time to pursue. 
 
But in the recent past I've heard much more – including some truly scandalous things. Leaving aside the scandalous things, let me focus on corruption/ black money allegations.
 
"Standard" allegations
Some allegations are "standard" in that these have already been widely published, e.g.
  • taxes are being evaded on what are primarily commercial activities (several cases pending with tax authorities on this count)
  • excise duty is being evaded through false declarations
  • violation/s of FEMA (cases pending with the Enforcement Directorate)
  • the issue of illegal land deals (Telelka). These include allegations that his people forcefully acquired land from farmers
  • allegations about running over 200 companies (e.g. Wikipedia).etc. 

New allegations

New allegations include that:

1) a number of suppliers & creditors are not paid their dues, particularly many small farmers.

2) the Government of India granted about Rs. 50 Crores for promoting a food processing business hub in the Food Park, Patanjali. However, these funds have allegedly been used for activities unrelated to such promotion, thus the grant has allegedly been misused. 

3) Manipulation of financial records: All financial matters have been handled by a single agency (Anil Ashok & Associates) acting as internal and external auditor for the past many years. Debts are a particular tricky issue. Relatives of Ramdev are allegedly key beneficiaries of such manipulation. Money laundering is allegedly a key activity in Ramdev's "empire".

The only way I can validate these allegations is through transparency and openness. I invite Ramdev and his group to publicise their side of the story through evidence and data.

THE STORY I'VE BEEN TOLD BY RAMDEV

Ramdev told me that he does not own a single rupee nor any land. All accounts of the entities associated with him (managed by independent Trusts or companies, through Balkrishna) are regularly audited and provided to necessary authorities. I was told that as a charitable Trust, the Bharat Swabhiman Trust had received authorised income tax exemptions from government. The work it does is entirely charitable. No one is charged to attend any Bharat Swabhiman camp.

However, I've now formed a strong suspicion that much of the information Ramdev told me was false. I need to physically see the relevant documents.

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Is there something fishy about Ramdev and his “empire”? #2

In this post, as discussed in the previous post, I am publishing my email of 22 December 2012, sent after detailed discussions with Siddhartha Ananta in Patanjali, seeking information on the financial status of Ramdev's organisation/s.

I held many meetings with Ramdev re: formation of a broadly liberal political party. Ramdev agreed to invite a few FTI members as part of this process. As part of this we held a meeting with Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishna in Balakrishna's office chamber. The matter of an independent financial audit organised through FTI was discussed in detail. We suggested hiring a Big 4 auditor, the results of which would be presented to India through a group of eminent people in a press conference in early 2013. There was not much interest among Ramdev/ Balakrishna in such an audit. We were referred, instead, to publicly available audit reports – which did not really provide the details I had sought. 

By now, though, based not just on this lack of provision of financial information but on the basis of further new information, I've formed a STRONG SUSPICION of financial (and other) impropriety in Ramdev's empire. I don't have direct proof yet but let me start by publicly documenting the information/ allegations I have, and seek input from those who know. I will try to pursue this data request more formally from Ramdev etc. in the coming days/ weeks.

===MY FORMAL REQUEST FOR FINANCIAL DETAILS TO RAMDEV, SENT ON 22 DECEMBER 2012===

Dear Siddhartha
 
As discussed, 
 
1) Can the published annual reports and balance sheets of the past three years be provided to [FTI] as soon as possible?
 
2) Are you able to request the relevant officials in Patanjali Vidyapeeth to prepare a draft document on the following points:
a) A one or two paragraph summary of the financial system including number staff (for each Patanjali entity)
b) Details of lodgement of accounts for past three years with the government
c) Taxes paid in these last three years.
d) Chronological list of government allegations and summary of findings
e) Statement made in Parliament
f) When  were 7 truckloads of data sent to government, and what was the result?
 
This information may take a few pages, but will be worthwhile in assessing next steps. This information can be compiled by 27 December.
 
3) Also, it would be desirable if a meeting could be organised  between a couple of senior finance officials and [FTI]  on 29 December.
 
Regards
Sanjeev
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Is there something fishy about Ramdev and his “empire”? #1

I'm increasingly coming to a view that there is something fishy about Ramdev and his empire. I am not yet 100 per cent sure, but there is enough information for me to start asking questions. 

First, let me publish the emails I wrote to Jaideep Arya and Siddhartha Ananta of Bharat Swabhiman Trust earlier this years with a request to get Ramdev's direct comment regarding his support for a BJP candidate whose black money was allegedly caught by the ECI. No such clarificaiotn or comment has yaet been received. This is a matter of ongoing concern. 

Second, when I decided (at Ramdev's two requests over phone) to travel to India to meet Ramdev in December 2012, I was aware of numerous allegations re: his empire. Therefore I asked for a set of financial and related information be provided to me so we (FTI) could to assess the facts before supporting Ramdev. After discussions with Siddhartha Ananta, I wrote an email in December 2012, seeking information to assess allegations of financial impropriety. Despite a (later) detailed meeting with Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishna on this issue, no information was provided by BST. I was, instead, asked to look at their website and provided verbal assurances. The issue never went away, though, and it is now time to publish that email. I do so in the next blog post.

Third, I've been getting DIRECT information from various sources about scandalous and black money activities in Patanjali. It is time, therefore, to try to assemble some of these allegations and information. In the third blog post in this series I'll publish some information that is likely to be true (but for which substantiating data is not readily available). I aim to pursue these allegations till I get to the bottom of things. If these allegations are true (I'm now confident based on information from HIGHLY CREDIBLE AND RELIABLE sources that they are), this will mean that Ramdev has been taking the country (including his millions of followers) for a ride.

Help me get to the bottom of this by providing any information you may have.

POST NO. 1: EVIDENCE REGARDING RAMDEV SUPPORTING BLACK MONEY

In April I raised serious objections to Ramdev's behaviour at a public event in which he protected a BJP candidates who was using black money. I also wrote this.

1. On 18 April I wrote to Jaideep Arya seeking clarification:

I'm upset beyond imagination at what happened in Alwar yesterday. I'd ask all GOOD people to abandon Ramdev at once. He is clearly CHEATING India.
 
He says one thing but does another. But worst is that he pretends to oppose black money but DIRECTLY SUPPORTS black money.
 
 
If you do not leave Ramdev at once I will assume you are part of the racket of misleading India.
 
Please speak out publicly also regarding anything that you may know about Ramdev's involvement in black money, since I've heard too many things about him, all of which can't be false – particularly given what happened in Alwar yesterday.
 
You know also very well that my strong attempts to get Patanjali audited by a group of eminent people was not acted upon by Ramdev/Acharaya.
 
Anyway, just to make clear, from now on Ramdev is in MY ENEMY CAMP – of those who have been destroying India. 
 
If Ramdev was serious about reform and integrity, he would have done what he clearly agreed with me: to set up a party based entirely on integrity. But he chose to support mega-corrupt BJP. 
 
Now he has been CAUGHT. He was perhaps afraid to work with me since I'd have caught out his lies. But no one can hide from the truth. Now the entire world knows what he is – a FAKE "opponent" of black money.
 
LET'S ALWAYS FOLLOW THE STRICT LINE OF TRUTH AND INTEGRITY else we can't help India. Please leave Ramdev and ask all good people to leave him.
 
2. Jaideep Arya replied on 18 April:
Pujya mahant chand Nath ji complaining to Pujya Swami ji about the Congress Conspiracy about disturbing the routine election Parchar
Head-Office
 
3. I wrote back to Jaideep:

No, Jaideepji. Mahant Chand Nath said CLEARLY that election funds had been caught. 

अच्छा एक किसी नें कहीं से पैसे ल्यानें में बड़ी दिक्कत होती है. हमारे पकड़े भीगये.
 
Only black money is caught. Ramdev, instead of immediately acting to challenge him for using such black money, asked him to keep quiet.
 
After the meeting, when press asked Ramdev, he DENIED even talking about money.
 
This is a clear case of Ramdev supporting BJP black money.

4. Jaideep Arya replied:

But EC authorize to spend 70 lacs in each constituency.
Head-Office

5. I replied back

No, no, that's not the point. I am fully supportive of white money in elections.

But this is about the fact that BJP is using black money. Only black money is caught, but instead of punishing this candidate for using black money (after he admitted that funds were caught), Ramdev protected him by (a) effectively asking him to discuss further in private and (b) denying to the media that any discussion took place regarding election funding. That second lie gave away everything. 

If he had any explanation (like you are trying to give) he should have given it on the spot.

Anyway, I have said what I have to say. I've also reported to the Election Commission to punish the candidate.

If you think (after reviewing the tape) that Ramdev was right, please carry on. I will know where Ramdev's team stands on the issue of black money. Please listen very carefully to what Mahant Nath said and then what Ramdev said. This is pure "mili-bhagat". Collusion in use of black money in elections.

Do not sully your own reputation, is my recommendation.

6. Jaideep wrote

"Mahant chand Nath ji complaining to @yogrishiramdev about D Congress Conspiracy to complain EC time and again that He had spent Money in excess in Parchar Parsar
" Take this complaint as Conspiracy"
it means u r Biased,adament , u r not justifying the facts even.
Head-Office

7. I then wrote (19 April)

I've now been provided the precise word used by Ramdev: "bawra" – to describe Mahant.

So the conversation now goes like this (I've updated my blog):

BJP candidate Mahant Chand Nath says to Ramdev:

अच्छा एक किसी नें कहीं से पैसे ल्यानें में बड़ी दिक्कत होती है. हमारे पकड़े भीगये. 

 

Translation: "Well, we are facing lot of problems in getting money [to this constituency]. Our people were also caught [by the Election Commission]."

To which Ramdev replies in a whisper: 

आप बात करना बंद करो, बावरे हो क्या? यहाँ मत करो. [Laughs sheepishly]

Translation: "Don't be an IDIOT. Stop this conversation now! [Don't talk such things in public]."

 
I have written to Jaideep Arya and Siddhartha Ananta (also copying this email) but Jaideep wrote (compiled from his emails):
 
1) Pujya mahant chand Nath ji complaining to Pujya Swami ji about the Congress Conspiracy about disturbing the routine election Parchar
 
2) "Mahant chand Nath ji complaining to @yogrishiramdev about D Congress Conspiracy to complain EC time and again that He had spent Money in excess in Parchar Parsar
" Take this complaint as Conspiracy"
it means u r Biased,adament , u r not justifying the facts even.

3) Jaideep also tried to justify that "But EC authorize to spend 70 lacs in each constituency."

Jaideep's defence of Ramdev doesn't fit the facts. Here's why:
 
a) This is NOT about legal 70 lakhs. That kind of (legal) money is never seized. Only black money is seized. A party whose money is seized normally keeps quiet for fear of jail. But in this case Mahanta is admitting to HIS black money being seized.
 
b) There is NO reference to any Congress disturbing any routine "prachar". This is about difficulties in bringing MONEY into the constituency.
 
c) This is NOT a "complaint" by anyone. This is DIRECT discussion from the horses' mouth. And both horses then go and deny that such a conversation even took place. That was the give away.
 
So Vachaspatiji, with all due regards to you, I've done my due diligence with Ramdev's team (I can't call him Swami any longer), and the defence being provided to me is absurd and irrelevant. Instead, I'm being called "Biased,adament , u r not justifying the facts even."
 
Jaideep doesn't understand that I'm nobody's fool. I will ask even God 100s of questions before agreeing that an alleged God is God. So far no one has tried coming to me, claiming to be God. Prove to me that I'm wrong, and I'll change my mind. Don't attribute bias to me. Don't call me adamant. 
 
But this is as conclusive as any evidence goes that this was about black money. This is NOT about any Congress conspiracy and this is NOT about legal 70 lakhs.
 
Over to you. You can contact Ramdev and ask him to publicly tell me that I'm wrong. I dare him to do so. I KNOW he can't, and won't. There is NO other explanation.
 
If he IS able to prove to the whole country that this he does not support BJP's black money, I'll eat a humble pie and publicly apologise. 
 
But he forgets that I have heard directly from a BJP person who personally distributed 35 lakhs in cash in ONE night in one small section of Mumbai slums (in 2009). So I KNOW that BJP uses crores of black money in elections. This is not a myth. This is true. How, then, is Ramdev supporting BJP? His position is totally untenable. He is NOT an enemy of corruption but only an enemy of Congress. 
 
I, however, am an enemy of corruption – regardless of who does it. And anyone who supports the corrupt or consorts with the corrupt is also my enemy. So Ramdev is now in the enemy camp.
 
8. And further I wrote:

Let me add that I feel particularly bad about the whole Ramdev saga since it was HE who contacted me (twice) over phone and persuaded me to come over to India to discuss a political party.

I then not only took leave, but spent my own money to meet him. 

And then I spent nearly 6 months of effort to build a party that we had agreed upon. The amount of work put in was huge. Not just me, nearly 10 of us on FTI. And Varun Arya.

My TIME, my MONEY, my EFFORT was all contingent on one thing: That Ramdev is a truthful, good man. I heard many stories against him so I asked that his organisations be audited. That request didn't go anywhere.

The sense of betrayal I now feel is visceral. Without asking me, he suddenly supported BJP. And now, he is actively supporting BLACK MONEY that is always used by BJP. And why did he lie to the press when caught out? 

Not the signs of an honest man. The man is unreliable.

IN SUMMARY (FOR THIS POST ONLY)

Ramdev has not contacted me, to date, to clarify and provide the necessary evidence in this regard, so this matter must remain open. Now (in the next two posts) for other info, as discussed in the introduction to this post.

 

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