Anna demands action on graft | Pakistan Today

Anna demands action on graft

Indian anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, whose campaign in August attracted massive public support, held a one-day fast on Sunday demanding the government do more to crack down on crooked officials.
Hazare’s 12-day hunger strike four months ago unleashed an outpouring of frustration among Indians over bribes paid in transactions ranging from getting a baby’s birth certificate to major infrastructure projects.
He returned to New Delhi for a one-day symbolic fast to protest against the government’s draft of a new anti-corruption law, which he said was “toothless” legislation that exempted many key officials.
“The government is not only cheating us but the entire nation,” Hazare told a press conference on Saturday. “We totally denounce the government’s draft of the bill.”
“One day the people of this country will teach a lesson to the government.” During his public fast in August, millions of Indians rallied across the country to support Hazare, a 74-year-old former army truck driver who has modelled his image on Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s administration was unnerved by the huge protests as Hazare became increasingly weak due to lack of food. Singh himself has been tainted by corruption scandals over the last year, with a former minister on trial over the mis-selling of telecom licences that cost the treasury up to $39 billion in lost income.
Hazare has threatened to go on an indefinite fast in Delhi from December 27 if Singh’s government fails to concede to his demands over the Lokpal (“Ombudsman”) bill. On Sunday, he visited Gandhi’s memorial in the city before heading to the open-air fast venue where a small crowd of a few hundred people had gathered.
Hazare said the authorities must listen to ordinary Indians “struggling with corruption in everyday life”, and he urged voters to reject Premier Singh’s Congress party in state elections next year.
“It’s time for the youngsters to get on road again and protest against the unfair attitude of the government,” he said. The ruling Congress party reacted by taking a harder line against the veteran campaigner, with a party spokesman on Sunday describing Hazare’s tactics as undemocratic and “insulting parliament”.
Singh has endured a difficult period in office over the past year, and he now faces the prospect of more rallies in support of Hazare when the activist starts fasting again at the end of this month.
Corruption has become one of the hottest topics in Indian politics, while Singh, 79, has been badly weakened by slowing economic growth, a U-turn on retail reform and near-constant deadlock in parliament.
Hazare said that India’s rulers must listen to ordinary people “struggling with corruption in everyday life”, and urged voters to reject Singh’s Congress party in state elections next year.
“There is no true democracy in the country because the power is concentrated in the hands of a few. This is dictatorship,” he said. “We have to bring about a change.” The government intends to pass its version of the anti-corruption bill during the current session of parliament, which ends on December 21.

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