Baba Ramdev has been trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons.
Recently, the businessman and Yoga guru appeared on a televised interview where he called the supporters of anti-caste activists like Periyar E.V. Ramaswami and BR Ambedkar “intellectual terrorists”. The interview was aired on November 11 and social media is filled with criticism of Ramdev since.
The hashtag #BoycottPatanjali started trending on Twitter on Friday followed by #ShutdownPatanjali and #ArrestRamdev on Sunday. Anti-caste activists on Twitter such as tribal leader Hansraj Meena, professor Dilip Mondal and many others called out Ramdev’s insolence and expressed outrage at being tagged “intellectual terrorists”.
Many sought an apology from the Yoga guru. Taking to Twitter, Meena wrote, “How dare you (Ramdev) not apologise? How do you get this audacity? You get it from people in power. But keep in mind, we know how to make everyone bend. This kind of outrageous commentary on Ambedkar, Periyar and calling us “intellectual terrorists” will not be tolerated”.
Mondal wrote, “Until now, Ramdev was only practicing “savarna-san”. Now you all are teaching him “bahujan-asan”.
All India Progressive Women’s Association’s general secretary and Communist Party of India politburo member Kavita Krishnan also called out Ramdev. “Ramdev says anti caste, anti patriarchy, working class liberators Periyar, Ambedkar, Lenin are “intellectual terrorists”. Why? Because their social & political movements threaten caste, class, patriarchal oppression, exploitation!”, she wrote.
This is not the first time that Ramdev has attracted criticism for making casteist slurs. In 2014, Ramdev was severely trolled for accusing Rahul Gandhi of visiting Dalit homes for honeymoon and picnic.
Ramdev’s statement was also condemned by anti-caste organisations such as Bhim Army, All India Ambedkar Mahasabha and All India Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation among others with many calling him a promoter of Manusmriti, the book that codifies the caste system and is highly revered by many as a religious text.
“The words used by Ramdev will not be tolerated. He has exposed himself as a believer in the Manuwadi philosophy. We have called for a boycott of Patanjali’s products,” said Ashok Bharati, president of the Ambedkar Mahasabha, told The Telegraph. The organisation has called for public burning of Patanjali products in case Ramdev does not tender and apology and retraction of his statement.
Meanwhile, netizens have been furious on social media. A Twitter user commented that Ramdev should not be commenting on Periyar and Ambedkar, without first studying and understanding their anti-caste doctrines.
Ramdev’s supporters on Monday responded by floating an #ISupportRamdev hashtag to defend the Patanjali founder.