A lashing monsoon rain was not enough to put off the jubilant crowds in New Delhi as India’s anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare was freed from jail.
Earlier he had refused to leave prison before police agreed to allow him to begin a fortnight’s hunger strike.
The 74-year-old told supporters that although the British had left, corruption and mismanagement remained.
“The second war for India’s independence has begun,” he said. “This is the beginning of a new revolution. Now, the flame of hope that has been lit by all the brothers and sisters, students and youth of this nation must not get extinguished. The fire should not go away.”
Hazare’s campaign has inspired millions among India’s new middle class, fed up with having to pay constant bribes to officials.
It is thought that one telecoms scandal may have cost the government 27 billion euros.
“Corruption is the main thing. If you go to any government office, without any bribe you cannot move ahead,” said one woman among the crowd of Hazare supporters.
Another woman said: “They (the government) should take a decision quickly. They will see today how the country is united.”
Hazare’s campaign, not to mention a certain physical resemblance, have evoked memories of India’s revered independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.
His protest has embarrassed the government, led by the Congress Party, now trying to save face over its anti-corruption bill which Hazare has criticised for being too weak.
He wants his own proposals adopted.