Deal seems close to end Anna Hazare fast

NEW DELHI Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:54pm IST

Veteran social activist Anna Hazare waves to his supporters on the tenth day of his fasting at Ramlila grounds in New Delhi August 25, 2011. REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma

Veteran social activist Anna Hazare waves to his supporters on the tenth day of his fasting at Ramlila grounds in New Delhi August 25, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Parivartan Sharma

Related Topics

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Anna Hazare edged closer on Thursday to a deal to end his 10-day public fast after Prime Minister Manmohan's Singh government agreed to discuss his anti-graft proposals.

The campaign by 74-year-old Hazare has sparked the biggest protests in decades, uniting millions of Indians, including its growing middle class, against the Congress Party-led government beset by corruption scandals in its second term.

The self-styled Gandhian activist said he would break his hunger strike if parliament began discussing his tough anti-corruption proposals, including incorporating low level civil servants into graft probes.

"If there is unanimity among all parties on these conditions then I will think about ending my fast, but not my protest," Hazare told thousands of his supporters.

A top government source with direct knowledge of the matter said Singh's government had agreed to discuss the proposals.

"Both the houses of parliament will discuss all versions of the Lokpal bill, including Team Anna's," the source, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

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.

Political parties have united to ask Hazare to end the 10-day public fast that has drawn tens of thousands of supporters to the Ramlila Grounds in 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."

Hazare had so far appeared steadfast in his hunger strike, despite growing criticism that he is holding an elected parliament hostage to his demands. There was some confusion to whether Hazare would end the fast at the start of the debate or by the passing of an anti-corruption bill.

Police blocked streets around the prime minister's residence and closed metro stations nearby, detaining protesters and sending them home in buses, amid fears protests could escalate as talks appeared to be on the wire.

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 (15 lbs) 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 to force-feed him, a move that would risk sparking further protests against a fumbling government of elderly ministers widely seen as out of touch.

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.

(Additional reporting by Annie Banerji and Nigam Prusty in New Delhi; Editing by Paul de Bendern, Sanjeev Miglani and Jackie Frank)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Market Eye

Sensex, Nifty rise to second consecutive record high

Sensex, Nifty rise to second consecutive record high

The BSE Sensex and Nifty on Friday rose to their second consecutive record highs. The 30-share Sensex surged as much as 1.52 percent to an all-time high of 27,762.13. The broader Nifty gained as much as 1.49 percent to a record of 8,291.65.  Full Article 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ban on E-Cigs?

Ban on E-Cigs?

Govt considers ban on e-cigarettes, sale of single smokes.  Full Article 

Commodities

Commodities

Silver futures in India hit four-year low on global cues.  Full Article 

BOJ Policy

BOJ Policy

BOJ shocks markets with surprise easing as inflation slows.  Full Article 

Cost Cutting

Cost Cutting

PM Narendra Modi boots officials out of the first class cabin  Full Article 

Leisure Riding

Leisure Riding

Harley-Davidson woos affluent young Indians with bike culture  Full Article 

Shadow Banking

Shadow Banking

China's shadow banking sector growing rapidly, third largest in world - FSB.  Full Article 

Moody's on India

Moody's on India

Moody's welcomes India's policy steps, but wants to see more.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage