India: Mass Support For ‘Fast To The Death’

The Indian government is under increasing pressure as tens of thousands of protesters take to the streets to support the anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare who has started a “fast to the death” in jail. Hazare draws on the memory of Mahatma Gandhi, whose doctrine of passive resistance ended British rule in India, and claims his struggle against corruption is taking shape as India’s second war of independence.The 74-year-old was arrested on Tuesday and taken to Tihar jail accused of staging an illegal demonstration.

He has since been released but is refusing to leave his cell unless the authorities relent and allow him to hold his protest on his terms.The well known activist wants the government’s new anti-corruption legislation to be made much tougher.At present most government officials will not be able to be investigated by a new ombudsman.His message has struck a chord with millions of ordinary voters.Indians – especially the growing and increasingly assertive middle class – are sick and tired of the endless cycle of corruption scandals.The disastrous start to the Commonwealth Games is now a symbol of the harm caused to the country by corruption.

Unfinished construction work and a dirty athlete’s village is a consequence, it is claimed, of having a political class which allegedly pockets billions of pounds from the public purse.Analyst Raja Mohan told Sky News the government is facing a major crisis to its authority.”Because India’s growing at 8% it has done reasonably well – you could overlook this but at this time of general economic crisis where there is the prospect everything could slow down then this issue could become ever more complicated,” he said.The tactic of hunger strike has infuriated the Indian Government which is looking increasingly clumsy and out of touch.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was heckled in parliament. He called Hazare’s campaign “misconceived” and “dangerous”.There is a view that Hazare, by staging a hunger strike to the death, is holding democracy to ransom.But the demonstrators are not going away and the appetite for further protest seems to be spreading.At the moment the government has no answer to the building anger on the streets and the continuing standoff which is draining the ruling party’s authority. – Skynews