Indian anti-graft campaigner ends fast, vows to fight on | Pakistan Today

Indian anti-graft campaigner ends fast, vows to fight on

Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare on Wednesday called off his latest hunger strike but vowed to step up his campaign to turn voters against the “traitors” in the ruling party and government. The 74-year-old’s warning came after the lower house of parliament passed a contentious bill to tackle top-level graft, amid widespread disquiet at scandals including ministers and senior officials.
Hazare only began what was billed as a three-day fast in the financial capital Mumbai on Tuesday. He has been laid low with a virus since the weekend and heeded the advice of doctors to bring the protest to a premature end.
“Today I will break the fast,” he told a smaller-than-expected crowd of several thousand supporters at the venue for the protest. “We will discuss the future strategy to launch our fight against corruption.”
The lacklustre response to his latest fast has raised speculation that he is not the force he appeared to be earlier in the year when he marshalled tens of thousands during a 12-day hunger strike in New Delhi in August.
In a sign of his increasingly bitter battle with the ruling Congress party and the administration of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said he would tour five states holding elections next year to educate voters about corruption. “We will tour all the five states and ask people not to vote for the traitors of this country,” he said, adding that he would organise further protests in the capital on December 30 and January 1-2. The Lokpal, or ombudsman, bill has has become a political albatross around the neck of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s coalition government.
The bill, creating an ombudsman to probe graft among senior politicians and civil servants, cleared its first hurdle in the lower house of parliament late on Tuesday after a fractious debate.
What form the legislation will take has dominated the political agenda for months, piling pressure on Singh’s administration already under pressure over a series of high-profile corruption scandals. The government had to redraft an earlier version in the wake of mass protests across the country in August, spearheaded by Hazare, who claimed the new law would be toothless and do nothing to curb endemic graft.
Hazare and opposition parties opposed the re-draft on the same grounds.
Despite the early end to his hunger strike, Hazare said he would continue to fight what he claimed was a government that was “acting like a dictator”.
“If this continues, what can we do? We have to save the country. Every one of you should be ready to go to jail,” he told supporters.



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