Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday slammed a hunger strike campaign by anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare as “totally misconceived” and deliberately confrontational.
“The path he has chosen… is totally misconceived and fraught with grave consequences for our parliamentary democracy,” Singh said in an address to parliament that was interrupted by cries of “shame” from opposition benches.
Singh said Hazare’s plans to hold an indefinite fast to push for changes to a new anti-corruption bill now before parliament was a direct and unconstitutional challenge to the government’s authority.
“Anna Hazare, 74, is fasting in prison with thousands of his followers assembled outside.
The gathering is the latest development in a fast-moving crisis that saw him arrested on Tuesday and then refusing to leave jail after the government ordered his release....The crackdown...met with outrage from the opposition, sparking Parliament’s adjournment and protests, ranging from candlelit vigils to the burning of effigies of government figures, in cities across India.”
New York Times
“An anti-corruption protest leader whose arrest on Tuesday morning reverberated across India, inciting outrage at the government, ended the day with a very different twist: He refused an offer to be released from jail.
By late Tuesday, the scene outside Tihar Jail was playing on all-news channels across the country. More than 1,000 supporters waved flags and banners, chanting slogans, as the protest leader, Anna Hazare, rejected a police release order because it contained a condition he could not accept — that he agree not to stage an indefinite hunger strike. He began one in jail anyway.