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Indian activist Anna Hazare agrees to end fast for reform talks.
by Time Magazine:
After 10 days of subsisting on nothing but water, the Indian anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare relented Thursday evening, agreeing to end his fast on the condition that the Indian government would promise, in writing, to include the main points of his agenda in its final draft of a new anti-corruption bill. “I have sent a message to the prime minister,” Hazare told thousands of supports in New Delhi on Thursday evening.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seemed to have gotten the message. He met with Rahul Gandhi, acting head of the Congress Party, on Friday morning. Shortly after his meeting with the Prime Minister, Gandhi stepped into the debate, ending a conspicuous silence during this week-long crisis of confidence in his party’s government. He thanked Hazare for bringing the issue of corruption to national attention but then questioned whether one law would make a difference.
Until now, the government has appeared confused about whether to take a hard line against Hazare for disrupting the parliamentary process or try to co-opt his demands, adopting them as their own. At one point, a Congress Party spokesman accused Hazare himself of being corrupt. The government also held a series of meetings with Hazare’s group this week and an all-party meeting — none of which came to any conclusion. Meanwhile, the government has watched the 74-year-old’s failing health and growing public support with alarm. On Thursday, Singh made an emotional appeal to Hazare to call off his fast.
Rahul Gandhi’s entry onto the stage in this drama offers a little clarity. Few Congress Party politicians are willing to openly contradict Gandhi, scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family and a likely future prime minister. Gandhi has now made his position public, so it’s likely that the government will follow his lead: praise Hazare and empathize with anti-corruption sentiment but insist on the primacy of Parliament. Instead of a completely independent Lokpal, Gandhi proposed an office that would be “accountable to Parliament like the Election Commission” and suggested other reforms, like government funding of elections and reforms to end tax evasion.
Recently, Indian police officers after arrested four politicians accusing them of abuse of power and other corruption charges. The fast has boosted the morale of India’s poor to protest against the heavily corrupted government.
From the Middle East to the Far East, the fight to end corrupted governments lives on.
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