Anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare has threatened to commence another hunger strike if the Indian Parliament does not pass tougher legislation against graft during the next session -- which begins on November 22.
Hazare underwent a 12-day fast in August to demand that the government establish an independent ombudsman to stamp out corruption. He has called for an ombudsman body that will have the power to investigate politicians who are suspected of corruption.
Hazare has also urged the passing of dramatic electoral reforms -- including the right to recall a lawmaker.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said he hopes parliament will pass such an ombudsman law.
If an effective Jan Lokpal [citizens’ ombudsman] is in place, it would help the country to get rid of corruption and also help utilize more funds towards development work, Hazare wrote in a letter to Singh.
I had adjourned my fast and agitation due to your assurance. I am keeping faith that a strong Lokpal Bill will come in the winter session of Parliament. But your party and responsible people in your government are trying to create suspicion by irresponsible talk. If a strong Jan Lokpal Bill is not passed in the winter session, I will start that agitation from the last day of [the] winter session,
Hazare, 74, has attracted millions of supporters in a nation where official corruption is believed to be endemic. Tens of thousands of people have rallied in support of his campaign.
In a letter to Hazare last month, Singh assured him that his government is working on an exhaustive agenda to fight corruption and improve government.”
Since October 16, Hazare has been adhering to a vow of silence in his native village in the state of Maharashtra.
A series of corruption cases involving senior government officials has placed enormous pressure on Singh’s administration.
However, some government officials have grown weary of Hazare and his campaign.
New Delhi’s information and broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told media: I do not see any reason for bringing pressure on the government as the parliamentary affairs minister… Congress leaders and the prime minister himself have repeatedly emphasized that a strong, effective and powerful instrument like the Lokpal will be put in place.
Similarly, law minister Salman Khurshid wondered what is the meaning of [Hazare’s] threat”?