Hazare Accuses India’s Govt of Not Seriously Tackling Corruption

Posted August 24th, 2011 at 4:40 am (UTC-5)
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Indian activist Anna Hazare has accused India's government of not being sincere in wanting to end the country's rampant corruption problem.

Hazare addressed his supporters Wednesday, as his hunger strike entered its ninth day. He vowed to continue his fast indefinitely unless parliament passes his version of an anti-corruption bill by August 30.

Hazare's hunger-strike protest, conducted in public in central New Delhi, has triggered huge anti-corruption protests throughout India.

Government officials have an all-party meeting scheduled for Wednesday to discuss the standoff. Parliament shut down early on Tuesday after loud quarrels broke out over the issue.

Law Minister Salman Khurshid met briefly with one of Hazare's aides on Tuesday, but the meeting apparently did not yield any breakthroughs.

In a letter to Hazare , India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called on the activist to end his hunger strike, promising that his government will pursue tougher anti-corruption legislation. The prime minister also expressed concern about Hazare's health.

The 74-year-old activist has refused doctors' efforts to administer to him intravenous fluids. But so far, Hazare says he has lost only six kilograms and that he is doing well.

Hazare has compared himself to India's independence hero Mohandas Gandhi, who practiced non-violent protest, and said the struggle against corruption in India now amounts to a second battle for national independence.

Earlier this month, the Indian parliament proposed creation of a civil institution, known as a lokpal, to reduce the country's endemic corruption. Hazare opposed the bill, saying it would not hold a prime minister or the judiciary accountable for corrupt practices.

Popular outrage over corruption has grown steadily in India over the past year, as a string of high-profile corruption scandals has made national headlines. They include the sale of telecommunications licenses at below market value and numerous financial irregularities in India's hosting of the Commonwealth Games last year.