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Hazare drives govt into a political corner: US media

world Updated: Aug 18, 2011 13:43 IST

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Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare has driven Indian government into a political corner, the US media has said, but a leading paper feels that methods being used by the social activist are a recipe for "anarchy".

The anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare, his arrest and his negotiation with the government, gorged wide coverage in the American media, with the papers saying that the Gandhian has become a thorn in the side of the government.

"Hazare, a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, is the face of a nationwide social movement against rampant corruption that has gathered pace this year after a string of high-profile scandals. He has become a major thorn in the side of the government, which is led by the Congress party," The Washington Post reported.

The social reformer has become an unlikely figurehead for the fight against corruption in the country, CNN reported.

"He has been able to mobilise public support because there is so much dissatisfaction with the issue. Citizens have even created a website -- ipaidabribe.com -- where people can denounce the corruption they encounter in their daily lives," the news channel reported.

"Fueled by obsessive coverage on India's all-news television networks, the jailhouse protest clearly captured the imagination of the country, and appeared to have backed government leaders into a political corner," The New York Times said.

The Los Angeles Times said the Indian government's attempt to head off a political crisis by arresting a key anti-corruption activist appeared to backfire when Parliament walked out and demonstrations erupted around the country.

"In April, Hazare held a five-day fast that garnered enormous national support and helped make him the public face of a grass-roots anti-graft fight. It also put the ruling Congress Party under pressure to pass a controversial Lokpal, or people's protector, bill that, among other things, would establish an independent ombudsman able to investigate senior officials," the paper said.

But the Wall Street Journal accused Hazare of undermining the Indian constitution, alleging that the methods used by the social activist are nothing but a "grammar of anarchy".

"Methods of Hazare's kind have no place in a democratic republic and, as the architect of India's constitution BR Ambedkar warned in 1949, are nothing but the grammar of anarchy," said the paper.

"The real issue should be Hazare's demagogic tactics. An open political system like India's resolves differences through the ballot box, but Hazare is intent on forcing the issue by threatening to fast to the death," the daily said.

"Hazare's supporters encourage comparisons to the emergency rule in 1975, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi suspended constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties. But if there is anyone who wants to undermine India's constitution today, it is Hazare," The wall Street Journal said.

"He demands that parliament create the unelected post of ombudsman, chosen by a panel of worthies, with sweeping powers to haul up any public official on graft charges, including the prime minister," the daily said.

"Who will guard the guardian if he begins to engage in politically motivated prosecutions?" the daily asked.

The Journal also held the government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh responsible for the present mess as his inability to take concrete action against corruption had created a vacuum which now has been occupied by Hazare.

The New York Times said that corruption is a source of growing public anger and frustration in India, and a yoke threatening to drag down the coalition government led by the National Congress Party.

"Mired in scandals for months, Congress Party leaders have tried to convince the public that they are cracking down on corruption, yet public skepticism remains high," it said.