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PM urges Hazare to end hunger strike

Aug. 25, 2011 at 8:01 AM   |   Comments

NEW DELHI, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- India's prime minister Thursday appealed to a frail 74-year-old social activist to end his anti-corruption hunger strike, now on its 10th day.

As tens of thousands of supporters of Anna Hazare at New Delhi's Ramlila grounds watched their leader continue his fasting amid failing health, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a speech to Parliament praised the idealism of the Mahatma Gandhi follower and appealed to him to end his hunger strike, promising Parliament's standing committee will consider all options including Hazare's Jan Lokpal bill, or citizens' ombudsman bill, against graft.

"He has become the embodiment of our people's disgust and concern about tackling corruption," Singh said about Hazare, the Hindustan Times reported.

Doctors attending Hazare, who has lost much weight, say he may need to be hospitalized and put on intravenous drip to provide him glucose and essential electrolytes.

While his protest since Aug. 16 has remained peaceful, there is mounting concern public reaction could get ugly if anything happens to Hazare.

"He has made his point," the prime minister said. "His life is much too precious."

The Hazare movement comes as the government has been hit by a number of corruption scandals and allegations of high-level graft, and as the economy faces serious problems including high inflation and rising food prices. Singh personally has not been affected by any allegations of impropriety.

Hazare has insisted on his tougher Jan Lokpal bill, saying the one currently before Parliament placed by Singh's government is too weak.

Talks between the government and Hazare's people appeared to be making headway but then appeared to have ended in an impasse late Wednesday night.

The Hazare campaign has drawn wide support across the nation as many people feel corruption has become a serious threat to the stability of the world's largest democracy.

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