India yoga guru hospitalized after seven day protest fast

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2011 7:23 AM
India yoga guru hospitalized after seven day protest fast

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Swami Ramdev, India's most famous yoga guru, was taken to hospital on Friday, his spokesman said, seven days into his fast until death to protest against corruption, as pressure grew on the government to accept his demands.

Ramdev, who travels by private jet and boasts 30 million daily television viewers, has been on hunger strike since Saturday, when the government used armed police to forcibly break up his fast in New Delhi.

Local government officials ordered Ramdev to be taken to a hospital, local media reported, as leading civil activist Anna Hazare and the main opposition party called on the ruling Congress party to reach an agreement with the guru on repatriating black money and passing anti-graft legislation.

"(Ramdev) has been taken to ICU, Jolly Grant hospital Dehradun due to low pulse rate and ketone body found in urine and dehydration on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer," S.K. Tijarwala, Ramdev's spokesman, said in a statement.

National anger over corruption has spiraled as the government lurches from scandal to scandal, including a telecoms licensing kickback scam that may have cost the exchequer up to $39 billion.

Protests on issues ranging from corruption to high food and fuel prices have mushroomed, though so far India has avoided the kind of social unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.

India's political system risks being undermined by a growing sense of unaccountability, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seen as out of touch with voters. Many senior ministers are in their 60s and 70s, about a quarter of elected MPs face criminal charges, and an anti-corruption bill has been mulled for 40 years.

"It appears the government is indifferent to Ramdev's condition," main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters.

(Reporting by Henry Foy; Editing by Paul de Bendern and Daniel Magnowski)