South Asia News
Indian parliament accepts demands of anti-graft campaigner
Aug 27, 2011, 16:08 GMT
New Delhi - The Indian parliament Saturday accepted hunger-striking activist Anna Hazare's demands for a tough anti-corruption law, in the hope that he would end his 12-day fast and nationwide campaign on the issue.
Hazare, 74, had rejected an anti-graft ombudsman or lokpal bill - which would set up a body with the power to look into complaints of corruption against government officials and prosecute them - as ineffective.
Hazare and his supporters instead insisted that the parliament support three features from their own version of the bill.
Following an eight-hour long parliamentary debate, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the 'broad sense of the house' was to accept the key demands of Hazare.
These included having an ombudsman for each state, a citizen's charter for each government department and that the ambit of the bill should cover all government officials.
There was however, no oral vote which was expected at the end of the debate, just desk-thumping by lawmakers from political parties.
Mukherjee made it clear that the outcome of the proceedings will be submitted to a parliamentary panel examining the lokpal bill. The committee would bring a revised legislation to the house, he said.
Associates of Hazare, amid thousands at his protest at New Delhi's Ramlila grounds, appeared to be satisfied and said it was likely that the campaigner would call off his fast on Sunday morning.
The corruption issue has precipitated into a major crisis for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, with protests erupting across India in support of Hazare's campaign.
Growing public anger comes against the backdrop of multi-billion-dollar corruption cases including a telecoms licenses scandal and graft during preparations for the 2010 Commonwealth games.