Two Indian anti-corruption campaigners drew thousands of cheering supporters to a protest yesterday to press the government to act against graft and bring back billions of dollars stashed overseas.
Yoga celebrity Baba Ramdev, wrapped in his trademark saffron robes, said he and social activist Anna Hazare would hold more protests through August «to bring back black money stashed abroad.»
The subjects of corruption and its spoils being secreted out of India have riled a public reeling from rapid inflation, slowing growth and widespread malnutrition.
The protests, along with a string of high-profile scandals, have deeply embarrassed the government and sullied Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s image as an honest technocrat who helped spark India’s growth by pushing to liberalise the economy in the 1990s.
«All we need is a corruption-free India,» Ramdev told crowds of flag-waving supporters in Delhi park near parliament, where he and Hazare also held a symbolic daylong fast.
Ramdev challenged Singh to review his team of ministers, saying «your personal honesty is not enough. You have to be politically honest, too. You have to keep your Cabinet honest.»
Ramdev and Hazare, who separately held several hunger strikes last year, have managed to focus national attention – and ire – against well-entrenched corruption.
Their demand for legislation to crack down on government corruption led to a bill now being debated in parliament.