India's Prime Minister Asks Anti-Corruption Activist To End His Fast

Aug 25, 2011

Anna Hazare, a 74-year old anti-corruption crusader in India, is on the 10th day of a hunger strike. Today Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked him to end his hunger strike saying parliament could discuss anti-corruption legislation.

Reuters reports:

Political parties have united to ask Hazare to end the 10-day public fast that has drawn thousands of supporters to a muddy expanse of open ground in the capital, 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."

As we've reported, Hazare is looking for parliament to pass a bill establishing a commission with broad authority to investigate corruption at all levels of government. Lawmakers have crafted a bill, but Hazare and other activists say it lacks teeth and Hazare said unless it is strengthened he will not stop fasting.

Bloomberg has a play-by-play on the legislation and negotiations, but the bottom line is chances for a deal look "dim."

Another factor in all of this is that Hazare has become a popular figure in India. Thousands have hit the streets in his support and that has put extra pressure on the prime minister to get something done.

The Wall Street Journal asks this morning how much longer can Hazare fast? There's no quick answer but doctors say Hazare is stable, even though he has lost 13 pounds. Also, the paper points out, he is 74 and sudden weight loss of that kind could prove to be too much.

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