India PM appeals to Anna Hazare to end fast

Hazare was well enough to address crowds on Thursday. He has lost nearly 7 kg since the start of his fast.


Reuters August 25, 2011

NEW DELHI: India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed to an anti-corruption campaigner to end his public hunger strike and proposed that parliament debate his demands after an apparent breakdown in talks with the self-styled Gandhian activist.

The campaign by 74-year-old Anna Hazare has united millions of Indians, including its growing middle class, against a Congress party-led government that has been beset by corruption scandals in its second term, paralysing policy making.

Political parties have united to ask Hazare to end the 10-day public fast that has drawn thousands of supporters to a muddy expanse of open ground in the capital, New Delhi, with increasing concerns about his health.

"He has become the embodiment of our people's disgust and concern about tackling corruption," Singh told parliament. "I applaud him, I salute him. His life is much too precious and therefore, I would like to urge Anna Hazare to end this fast."

But Hazare has so far appeared steadfast in his hunger strike, despite growing criticism that he is holding an elected parliament hostage to his demands.

The government has offered some concession to an anti-corruption bill that Hazare has said was toothless, but negotiations ended on Wednesday without any progress.

Singh proposed on Thursday that parliament debate Hazare's bill as well as the government bill and a third piece of legislation on corruption to help forge a cross-party consensus.

Hazare was well enough to address crowds on Thursday. He has lost nearly 7 kg since the start of his fast.

"I am sure I will not die until we get the Jan Lokpal (anti-corruption) bill ... I will keep fighting," he said.

Hazare's deteriorating health could force the government to decide on force-feeding him, a move that would risk sparking further protests against a fumbling government of elderly ministers widely seen as out of touch.

With key state elections due next year in the run-up to a  general election in 2014, Singh is under pressure to end a crisis that has paralysed policy making and parliament and added to his unpopularity amid high inflation and a run of corruption scandals.

Many of India's fast-growing urban middle class have joined forces with Hazare to protest against a system that requires bribes for everything from driver's licences to birth certificates and has allowed politicians and businessmen to cream off millions of dollars through shady deals.

Several scandals linked to the government, including a telecoms bribery scam that may have cost the state up to $39 billion in lost revenues, led to Hazare's latest protest.

COMMENTS (8)

Vinayak | 10 years ago | Reply

@JJ:

Corruption in India is not new its going on last 64 yrs why Anna Hazare think it now? at the age of 75.

Anna Hazare was directly responsible for removal of 6 corrupt MLA's and 400 corrupt officials. He is responsible for transforming the economy of his village, and villages around it. The RTI act is the result of a 10 year struggle by him. He was majorly responsible for toppling of 2 corrupt governments in Maharashtra.

When he was doing all these, where were you, what were you doing?

I think Kisan Baburao Hazare wana to become Mohandas Karamchand Gandh and nothing.because ...

He is Hazare not Gandhi. Even if he wants to become Gandhi, what is wrong.

Corruption will never end…

Maybe corruption will never end in the world, but it will certainly end in India, because good people are finding their voice.

SKChadha | 10 years ago | Reply

"united millions of Indians …. against a Congress party-led government.”

The movement is for effective legislation and not against government. It is only against corruption by corrupts. The standing respect of the Parliamentarians is testimony of this fact. The remaining unresolved issues are not for urban middle class but for the poor rural folks. They are to include lower bureaucracy in the ambit of Lokpal and publishing time line for public job in government department e.g. driving license, payment of minimum wages, Punchayat curruption, passport, ration cards etc. Most of these public utility services are under State governments’ domain. These issues are yet not resolved and hence hunger strike continue.

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