Indian Yoga Guru to Proceed With Hunger Strike

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 6:20 pm (UTC-5)
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A famous yoga guru in India has rejected an appeal by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to call off an anti-corruption hunger strike.

Swami Ramdev vowed Wednesday to proceed with the fast, after holding talks with several government ministers sent to meet him in the capital, New Delhi.

Ramdev told reporters millions of Indian people will be joining the struggle to fight government corruption, and he called for a corruption-free society.

Ramdev's hunger strike will be the second by a prominent figure in recent months aimed at pressuring Mr. Singh's administration to pass a new tough anti-corruption law.

In April, 72-year-old Indian social activist Anna Hazare carried out a five-day hunger strike. He ended the strike after reaching a deal where the government pledged to form a joint committee aimed at passing a new anti-corruption law.

The committee will be led by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Mr. Singh's government has been beleaguered by a series of recent corruption scandals. The biggest involves the sale of telecom licenses at below-market rates, allegedly causing the government to lose up to $40 billion.

The prime minister has said he wants anti-corruption legislation introduced at the next parliamentary session scheduled to begin June 30. He said his party is committed to cleaning up government.

Many Indians see corruption as the country's greatest national crisis.

The hunger strike tactic comes from the non-violent approach of Mahatma Gandhi, the architect of India's independence from Britain. Hazare called his campaign a “second battle for India's independence.”