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Famous anti-graft campaigner under fire

Ex-supporters say Anna Hazare needs a strategy beyond hunger strikes

Famous anti-graft campaigner under fire
A hero last year, Anna Hazare now faces mounting criticism
Bijay Kumar Minj, New Delhi

July 31, 2012

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Critics of anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare say he needs to produce more tangible results as his latest hunger strike in New Delhi is attracting dwindling crowds. Although the turnout picked up at the weekend, Hazare has seen crowds fall to just 2,000 people since he restarted a hunger strike on July 25. Swamy Agnivesh, a former member of Hazare’s inner circle who left after differences of opinion, said it was time for the ant-corruption leader to alter his approach. “The reason for the poor turnout is that this movement is leading people nowhere,” he said. Archbishop Vincent Concessao of New Delhi agreed that Hazare needed a new strategy to pass India’s long-awaited anti-graft bill. “It has been more than year since the anti-corruption movement was launched and people want results,” he said. Hazare kicked off the movement in April last year when he completed a four-day fast, demanding the government enact a bill that would give wider powers to an ombudsman to fight corruption. The action attracted thousands of people and made headlines worldwide. In August last year, the 75-year-old undertook another 16-day strike which saw around 10,000 people supporting the cause, followed by a similar protest in December which pressured the government into tabling an anti-graft bill. Although it passed in the lower house, it has yet to do so in the upper house. Agnivesh said Hazare’s team needed clear goals and a way of working which allowed people to register their differences if they are ever to exert enough pressure on the government to get the law passed. “The basic structure is missing in the team,” he said. Criticism of Hazare spiked after a demonstration on Saturday, when supporters pelted stones at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence. There were also reports that they attacked journalists last night, prompting Hazare to apologize for the incident today. “If anyone misbehaves, I will end my movement right here,” he said. Related reports Christians back hunger striker campaign Thousands gather for anti-graft rally
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