Indian PM vows ‘strictest action’ against graft; New Hunger strike planned by campaigner

15.08.2011 - New Delhi - Radio Netherlands

But referring to recent confrontations with anti-graft campaigners, he said *”it is essential that when we consider these issues, we do not create an atmosphere in which the country’s progress comes into question”*.

The government has introduced a new anti-corruption bill in parliament that would create a powerful ombudsman, or Lokpal, with the powers to investigate ministers and bureaucrats.

But veteran campaigner Anna Hazare has dismissed it as ineffectual and has vowed to begin a hunger strike this week.

Singh appealed to Hazare to abandon his plans.

*”We want a strong Lokpal to prevent corruption in high places (and) we have introduced a bill in parliament to achieve this and now only parliament can decide what type of Lokpal legislation should be enacted,”* he said.

Late Sunday, Indian President Pratibha Patil described corruption as a “cancer” affecting all aspects of life in the country.

Allegations of high-level corruption have focused on preparations for last year’s Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and on the government’s sale of lucrative second-generation (2G) mobile phone licences in 2008.

Suresh Kalmadi, the ruling party politician in charge of organising the Games, is in custody on graft charges, while two ministers have resigned over the 2G licences allegedly being sold at bargain prices to select telecom firms.

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