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Protestors warn government on graft

Yoga guru Ramdev and Anna Hazare threaten more demonstrations in August

  • Rita Joseph, New Delhi
  • India
  • June 4, 2012
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The popular yoga guru Baba Ramdev yesterday joined corruption campaigner Anna Hazare in a one-day hunger strike at New Delhi’s Hyde Park as the two men warned the government to address corruption within its ranks or face further protests in August.

Ramdev said there would be a “fight to the finish” in two months if the government did not repatriate what the Central Bureau of Investigation estimates to be US$500 billion that rich Indians have stashed in tax havens abroad, one of a number of issues that has also attracted criticism and protest from Hazare.

The yoga guru, who has a daily television program watched by millions of Indians, also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take action against “widespread corruption by his cabinet colleagues.”

Yesterday’s protest marked a nine-day hunger strike by Ramdev last year, attracting 6,000 people amid sweltering temperatures. But it was marred by a disagreement between Ramdev and a Hazare supporter.

Arvind Kejriwal, a backer of Hazare, walked out of the event after Ramdev said he did not want to name and shame a list of 14 ministers allegedly involved in corruption.

“Arvind has just said people with cases against them are sitting in parliament ... we must name and shame them,” Hazare said, suggesting a disagreement with Ramdev on how best to approach their anti-corruption campaign.

The government has indicated it may establish fast-track courts in a bid to try cases of corruption and depositing money abroad, but has yet to do so.

The Lower House of parliament last year passed the notorious ‘Lokpal Bill’, anti-graft legislation that would set up an independent body to investigate corruption, but the proposal has been held up in the Upper House prompting protest threats from Hazare and others.

India’s parliament has introduced eight versions of the law since 1968 but none have passed both houses.

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