Indian activist not happy with proposed graft bill

AP News
Posted: Dec 21, 2011 2:48 AM
Indian activist not happy with proposed graft bill

India's federal Cabinet has approved legislation to create an anti-corruption watchdog, but a prominent activist who has campaigned against graft said Wednesday that he is not satisfied with the bill.

Activist Anna Hazare said the proposed bill was only an attempt to "fool" the people. He said he would start a three-day fast from Dec. 27 to protest the fact that government hadn't accepted his version of the legislation. He also urged his supporters to court arrest after his fast.

Hazare, who claims inspiration from Mohandas K. Gandhi, has called his protest against corruption the second freedom struggle and has fasted three times already to garner support for his demands.

He started with a five-day fast in April after which the government invited members of his team to help draft the legislation. In August, he fasted for 12 days to force Parliament to pass his sweeping proposal to create a powerful watchdog to police everyone from the prime minister to the lowest village bureaucrat. He also held a daylong fast earlier in December.

The government's version of the law was approved late Tuesday night and the bill is expected to be presented in Parliament on Thursday. Few details of the proposed legislation were immediately available.

Hazare said the exclusion of the country's top investigative agency from the purview of the proposed corruption watchdog weakened the legislation. Keeping the Central Bureau of Investigation under the supervision of the ombudsman had been one of Hazare's key demands.

Hazare's campaign has drawn tens of thousands of people in a country where corruption is rampant and top officials are regularly embroiled in scandals even as hundreds of millions of people are trapped in poverty.

But critics say his populist campaign attempts to vilify all politicians and hold elected officials hostage.