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Friday, 19 August 2011

Anna Hazare promises ‘revolution’

New Delhi—Activist Anna Hazare vowed a “revolution” in India as he began a public fast Friday amid astonishing scenes of celebratory protest that sent an intimidating message to a shell-shocked government.

“We have to bring a total change in this country,” the 74-year-old told a huge crowd of chanting, flag-waving supporters at the open Delhi venue for his 15-day hunger strike to demand stronger laws against official graft.

“The whole world will see you as an example of how to bring about revolution with non-violence,” the diminutive, bespectacled Hazare told the massed audience which cheered at every word.

Once seen as just an annoying thorn in the side of the establishment, Hazare has transformed into a national figure whose popularity has destabilised a government elected in 2009 with an unassailable parliamentary majority.

His campaign has tapped into a deep reservoir of discontent — especially among India’s burgeoning middle-class — with a culture that requires bribes to secure everything from business permits to birth certificates.

After leaving the jail cell that had been his campaign headquarters since his arrest three days ago, Hazare was driven to the fasting venue in a triumphal convoy that paralysed the capital as hundreds of thousands of his adoring supporters piled onto the streets.

At times, his open-top truck was forced to stop as the crowds surged forward to throw flowered garlands up at Hazare,


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