BJP President Nitin Gadkari today created a flutter when he touched Ramdev's feet, saying it was a mark of respect and he saw nothing wrong seeking the blessings of the yoga guru.
"Our culture tells us that when a man wearing saffron clothes visits you, you take his blessings. I feel proud that I took Ramdev Baba's blessings. It is our culture. Those who don't follow this culture may behave differently," Gadkari said.
Gadkari presented a bouquet to Ramdev who drove to his residence for a meeting to solicit BJP's support for the campaign to bring back blackmoney stashed by Indians abroad. The BJP president then bent down and touched Ramdev's feet and sought his blessings. After a brief photo opportunity, the two went inside and held a meeting on the black money issue.
When the two emerged from the meeting, Gadkari was asked about his gesture.
On earlier occasions also, Gadkari has under public gaze touched the feet of senior leaders like L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj to take their blessings. Gadkari did so even in the ceremony at the party headquarters where it was announced that he would be the next president of BJP.
Today's gesture, however, sent feelers that BJP is fully supporting Ramdev in his fight against black money. Ramdev enjoys an impressive following in North India due to his yoga classes.
Several trusts run by Ramdev are under the scanner of income tax and other authorities. While the Income Tax department has slapped a notice of Rs.58 crore against Ramdev's trusts, the Service Tax authorities have issued a notice of Rs.4.94 crore to one of his trusts for alleged duty evasion on its income raised through country-wide 'yog shivirs' (yoga camps). Ramdev has said Government was targeting him for his campaign against corruption and blackmoney.