India’s Hazare hints at forming political party

An Indian rights activist said Thursday that he would end his hunger strike demanding strong anti-graft laws and hinted at forming a political party to fight the country's rampant corruption.

Anna Hazare began an indefinite fast Sunday to demand Parliament approve a stalled anti-graft bill after it reconvenes Wednesday. While announcing that he would end the fast on Friday evening, he suggested that he would not be against his supporters forming a new political party to combat corruption by participating in elections.

He said he would not stand for polls himself. Hazare and his supporters have said in the past that almost every politician in India was corrupt.

Three of his aides, who have been fasting since July 25, also will stop. This is Hazare's fifth hunger strike in 16 months, but the mass support he received initially has dwindled.

A year ago his campaign brought tens of thousands of middle-class Indians to the New Delhi fairground, where he went without food and water for 12 days. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country marched in support.

His latest protest fast has drawn a few thousand people on peak days and only a few hundred supporters on others.

The round-the-clock sympathetic media coverage of his earlier campaigns has also been missing.

The government welcomed Hazare's decision to end his fast.

Information and Broadcasting minister Ambika Soni told reporters she welcomed the idea of Hazare and his supporters entering politics. She said his hunger strike was out of place in a democracy and amounted to holding a government "elected by the people of the country to ransom."

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