10 December 2013, 11:49

Indian activist begins hunger strike to push anti-corruption bill




Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare Tuesday began an indefinite fast in his village in Maharashtra to pressure the government to pass a tough anti-graft law, news reports said. The Lokpal Bill envisages the creation of an independent ombudsman with powers to prosecute politicians and civil servants. It has been passed by the Lok Sabha or lower house of parliament but is pending in the upper house or Rajya Sabha.

A 12-day fast by Hazare, 76, in the Indian capital in 2011 drew large popular support and forced the government as well as opposition political parties to push the bill in parliament.

Hazare said he was beginning a "do-or-die" hunger strike to press the government to pass the bill in the current session of parliament that is scheduled to end on December 20, NDTV news channel reported.

This would be the activist's fourth indefinite hunger strike since April 2011 in favour of the ombudsman legislation.

The government would do its best to pass bill in the current session, federal minister V Narayansamy said.

Arvind Kejriwal, who was earlier a part of Hazare's campaign, later split to form a political party, saying pressure from outside the political system was not working and changes would have to be brought about from within.

Kejriwal's Aam Admi Party recently fought local elections in Delhi.

It won substantial number of seats but failed to get a majority.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government has been mired in a series of corruption scandals in recent years.

Some high profile corruption cases include a 40-billion-dollar telecommunications licensing scandal and financial irregularities during the organization of the Commonwealth Games in October 2010.

Voice of Russia, dpa

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