Indian Prime Minister Appeals to Protester to End His Fast - NYTim...

August 23, 2011

Indian Prime Minister Appeals to Protester to End His Fast

NEW DELHI (AP) — India's prime minister appealed to an anti-corruption activist Tuesday to end his weeklong hunger strike, offering to ask Parliament to debate a tougher version of proposed reform legislation. It was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's first attempt at compromising with Anna Hazare, whose fast has galvanized tens of thousands of corruption-weary Indians and left the government flailing to respond. Hours later, Hazare's key aides held their first round of talks with the government's lead negotiator, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. Late Tuesday night both the government and activists said that while the first round of talks went well more discussions were needed before the impasse would end. "Considerable progress made in talks with government. Anna awaits their firm commitment and declaration," Kiran Bedi, a protest organizer, wrote on Twitter after the meeting ended. Shortly after the meeting began, Hazare came out and addressed his supporters. He said doctors asked him to seek medical intervention but the "voice of my conscience does not allow me to accept medical help right now." The government has scheduled an all-party meeting for Wednesday to discuss the conflict over the anti-corruption watchdog and Mukherjee said the matter would be discussed there before any decision was reached, Press Trust of India reported. Hazare and his aides are demanding Parliament pass their more stringent version of a bill creating a government watchdog before he would end the fast he began Aug. 16. With the 74-year-old Hazare growing weaker after losing more than 12 pounds (5.5 kilograms), according to his aides, Singh wrote to express concern over his health and ask him to end his hunger strike.

1 of 3

8/23/11 8:01 PM

. to consider Hazare's version as well. "several traitors have dragged our independence in the mud. as suicide is illegal in India. They also call Hazare's more sweeping draft legislation unconstitutional. from a robust physical condition and not in the context of frail or failing health. Some have criticized the hunger strike as verging on demagoguery.. "I trust my team of doctors. Singh said he shared the activist's concern over corruption and offered to ask Parliament. Hazare's aides said they were growing increasingly concerned about him. while supporters have held rallies in cities across India." he said.nytimes.000 supporters at a New Delhi park. saying Hazare's proposal wouldn't protect the poor masses. http://www. But Hazare's basic focus on rooting out corruption has struck a chord among Indians fed up with bribery and favoritism in all levels of government. Since then. Parliament was forced to shut down its morning session amid shouting by lawmakers from the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party demanding Hazare's protest be discussed. Indian media have given nonstop coverage to his campaign." Hazare said earlier Tuesday to about 10. Authorities are required to intervene if Hazare's life is at risk. Hazare reassured his supporters that he faced no threat." Tuesday's crowd was thinner than on the weekend and Monday's national holiday." Bedi tweeted. Representatives of India's lowest-caste dalits.. Gandhi — has called his campaign a "second revolution" and drawn comparisons to India's fight for independence from British colonial The activist — styling himself after Indian freedom fighter Mohandas K. Meanwhile. He is reaching a difficult stage. "Pray for Anna's health.Indian Prime Minister Appeals to Protester to End His Fast . planned a counterprotest Wednesday. They will not let me die. While both the opposition and governing party have been implicated in major scandals over the 2 of 3 8/23/11 8:01 PM . "I'm sitting here to get this country its correct independence. "I have no hesitation in saying that we need your views and actions in the service of the nation. Hazare has demanded the proposed watchdog have greater powers as well as the authority to investigate the judiciary and the prime minister. or untouchables. already debating the government's anti-corruption bill. saying Hazare was falsely claiming to represent all of India." he wrote..

.Indian Prime Minister Appeals to Protester to End His Fast . opposition leader Sushma Swaraj blamed the government for the country's graft and said "ministers are looting" millions of http://www. past year. ___ Associated Press writer Katy Daigle contributed to this report. 3 of 3 8/23/11 8:01 PM .