Anti-graft campaigner Anna Hazare has begun another hunger strike to protest the government's lethargy in combating corruption. But this time around his campaign is getting less media attention.
Anna Hazare, the well-known Indian social activist, began his indefinite hunger strike on July 25 with a group of other activists. For years, Hazare has been campaigning to force the Indian parliament to approve the Jan Lokpal bill, which proposes to establish the position of an independent ombudsman, who will have the powers to prosecute politicians and civil servants.
In 2011, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to set up a committee to consider the Jan Lokpal bill, but no progress has been made on it so far.
Both the ruling coalition and the opposition oppose the bill and say that no institution should be more powerful than parliament.
"The government has done nothing so far to pass the bill or to fight corruption," said a member of Hazare's activist group, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Now we have lost all hopes in the country's political parties. Hazare thinks the campaign needs alternative approaches," he said, implying that Hazare might form his own political party before next parliamentary elections, which are due to be held in 2014.
"Hazare won't contest these elections, but he will definitely have a huge influence," the activist added.
A lackluster campaign
Hazare's previous campaigns attracted huge media attention, but it seems the recent one has failed to grab the limelight.
"Previous campaigns made headlines on front pages of all newspapers or were reported live on most news channels, but this time it has all been reduced to just minor reports," complained Hazare's team member.
He said the media was quick to declare the latest campaign a flop because on its first day the turnout at the campaign site was lower than in the previous year. Nonetheless, "with the passing days, the participation of people is increasing."
Social media is probablyplaying a bigger role than the mainstream media in spreading the message of the campaign, he pointed out.
Hazare's aide Arvind Kejriwal asked the Indian population to join the campaign in one of his tweets.
"It is time to do or die. Dedicate this week to your country. Take days off from work and college and take to the streets. Make India corruption-free," he tweeted.
Author: Tanushree Sharma Sandhu
Editor: Shamil Shams