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India's Rahul Gandhi Slams Anti-Corruption Fast

A volunteer administers eye drops to Indian social activist Anna Hazare on day 11 of his fast at the Ramlila grounds in New Delhi, Aug. 26, 2011.

Rahul Gandhi, the heir to India's most powerful political family, warned Friday the country's democracy was being threatened by a popular anti-corruption campaign led by activist Anna Hazare, who has refused food for 11 days straight.

India's Rahul Gandhi Slams Anti-Corruption Fast
India's Rahul Gandhi Slams Anti-Corruption Fast

Gandhi told parliament Friday that Hazare's use of a hunger strike to force lawmakers to adopt an anti-corruption bill set "a dangerous precedent for a democracy."

Instead of a bill, Gandhi proposed creating a constitutional body to fight corruption. Gandhi's comments were his first on the government's standoff with Hazare since the 74-year-old activist began his fast.

Hazare's aides say he will end his fast if lawmakers pass a resolution backing some of his demands.

Earlier reports said Hazare would end his hunger strike Friday if parliament started talks on his anti-graft proposals.

Earlier this month, the ruling Congress party introduced an anti-corruption bill that would create a civil organization, or lokpal, with the powers to investigate ministers and bureaucrats.

But Hazare rejected the bill and called for parliament to pass his own version, saying it would do more to hold the prime minister and judicial branch accountable.

Parliament officials were trying to work out the procedures Friday for introducing the competing bills.

Hazare's fast has united millions of Indians against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government.

Mr. Singh told parliament Thursday he wants his government to debate all reform proposals, including the one championed by Hazare.

Hazare has been encamped in an open-air venue in New Delhi with thousands of supporters.

Mr. Singh's government and members of the opposition have urged Hazare to let doctors feed him intravenously, but the activist has refused.

Popular outrage over corruption has grown steadily in India over the past year, as a series of high-profile corruption scandals has made national headlines. They include the sale of telecommunications licenses at below market value and numerous financial irregularities in India's hosting of the Commonwealth Games last year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.