AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
NEW DELHI: Indian activist Anna Hazare threatened on Thursday to start a new hunger strike and a campaign of civil disobedience unless a long-delayed anti-graft law is passed by next week.
Hazare, a 74-year-old campaigner and Gandhi admirer, held a 12-day hunger strike against corruption in August that unleashed an outpouring of anger from Indians who are fed up with paying bribes.
He wants the government to pass a law creating a powerful new Lokpal or Ombudsman tasked with investigating and prosecuting all public figures, including the prime minister, by the end of parliament on December 21.
"I will go (on) an indefinite fast from December 27. Every person of this country who supports my movement should be ready to resume the agitation if the government ignores our demand for a strong Lokpal," Hazare said in New Delhi.
"Start filling up the jails if the government ignores our wish for a strong Lokpal. Protest outside the houses of those parliamentarians who oppose the Lokpal and ask the police to arrest you," he said.
Hazare said he will himself protest outside the house of the leader of the ruling Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, but added that he will drop his agitation immediately if his demands over for the new law were met.
"Then we will hold a thanksgiving and give roses as a token of our gratitude to the lawmakers," said the former army truck driver who has modelled his image on Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi's civil disobedience movement against British rule in 1930 was an important milestone in India's history and eventually led to the country's independence in 1947.
The spectre of renewed protests by Hazare comes at a difficult time for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh half-way through his second five-year term.
Singh's administration has been tainted by a series of corruption scandals, with a former minister currently on trial over the mis-selling of telecom licences that cost the treasury up to $39 billion in lost income.
The premier also has had to backtrack on a flagship retail reform to allow foreign investment in supermarkets after facing protest from his coalition allies.
Singh has called a meeting of his cabinet colleagues on Sunday to consider Hazare's demands.