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Indian guru ends anti-graft hunger strike

2012-08-14 15:00

New Delhi - An Indian yoga guru on Tuesday ended a six-day hunger strike against corruption but vowed to use his public popularity to pile pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Baba Ramdev, a maverick "holy man" who heads a wealthy international yoga organisation, sipped juice to break his fast as several thousand supporters cheered him in New Delhi.

Ramdev had tried to lead an anti-corruption march to parliament on Monday but was corralled by police at a sports stadium in the Indian capital.

The prime minister "should show political will and honesty, and if he does not show it, he will be deemed as corrupt", Ramdev, half naked and wearing saffron-coloured robes, told the crowds.

"If he cannot remain politically honest then he should leave the post," Ramdev said, claiming that the fast had achieved its aims and calling for the downfall of Singh's ruling Congress party at general elections due in 2014.

"Next time in the elections, we should ensure that not a single Congress leader gets elected to parliament," he said.

Ramdev has modelled his anti-graft campaign on the protest movement launched last year by veteran social activist Anna Hazare, but the yoga guru has failed to attract an equal level of public support.

Ramdev, who is expected to return to his ashram in the Himalayan foothills, has focused on demanding the government repatriate billions of dollars of "black" money stashed by Indians in foreign accounts.

The government has accused him of trying to whip up popular support for his own benefit and of being used by the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

Police ordered Ramdev to leave the stadium and disperse his supporters ahead of Independence Day celebrations in Delhi on Wednesday.

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