Battle is over, but the war will continue: Hazare

The successful end to the 5-day-long agitation came after the govt issued a gazette notification to set up a joint committee to draft the Lokpal Bill.

Last Updated: Apr 10, 2011, 10:41 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: After forcing the government to bow down before people’s power and accept the demands for a stronger Lokpal Bill, iconic Gandhian leader and social activist Anna Hazare on Saturday ended his 98-hour-long hunger strike after the government issued a gazette notification to set up a joint committee to draft an effective Lok Pal Bill.

The joint committee will be headed by senior minister Pranab Mukherjee and will consist of 10 members – five each from the government as well as the civil society. The committee will include Law Minister Veerappa Moily, Telecom Minister Sibal, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Water Resources Minister Salman Khurshid as members.

Besides Hazare, those representing the civil society in the joint committee will be eminent lawyers Shanti Bhushan, Prasant Bhushan, retired Supreme Court Judge Santosh Hegde and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal. Shanti Bhushan will be the co-Chairman of the committee.

The notification, one of the key demands of the anti-corruption campaign launched Hazare, has been signed by V K Bhasin, Secretary, Legislative Department of the Law Ministry. The notification was proudly displayed at the site of Hazare`s fast at Jantar Mantar by Kiran Bedi to the loud cheering of the assembled gathering there.

The 73-year-old anti-corruption crusader called off his fast-unto-death by drinking a glass of lime juice at Jantar Mantar, given to him by a little girl. Prior to ending his fast, Hazare also helped his supporters break fast by drinking lime juice.
As the news of Anna’s fast broke celebrations broke out instantaneously across the country with his supporters creating a carnival like atmosphere.

“This is a victory of people. This just the beginning of the fight against corruption. There is a long struggle ahead,” the soldier-turned-activist said addressing his hundreds of thousands joyous supporters at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. He set August 15 as the deadline for the passage of the Lok Pal Bill.

Later, at a press conference, he struck a note of caution expressing apprehension over parliamentarians` readiness to pass a strong anti-corruption legislation. He said "power-hungry" politicians will not easily accept any bill having stringent provisions against corruption or "shed" the power they enjoy.

He said if the government fails to get the Bill passed in Parliament’s Monsoon Session, “the activists would converge at Red Fort on August 15 and hoist the national flag”, clearly indicating the movement would continue till the Bill becomes a law.

“We will now have to force the government to decentralise power, make citizens powerful… There should also be right to recall elected candidates for non-performance,” Hazare said, adding the government needs to bring in ‘No vote’ provision.

He further announced that a national committee of activists would be formed to carry on the fight, the constitution of which would be announced later.
Hazare thanked the media for spreading the message. He added that the entire campaign showed the world that “India is united”.

Hazare said he will travel to various states to meet with people who were also sitting on fast along with him.

He declared he would not rest content with the anti-graft legislation but fight for reforms of the electoral system, including the provision for `right to recall` of elected representatives from the gram panchayat level.

Hazare said the support lent to the crusade by the youth is a ray of hope.

Earlier in the day Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the government intends to introduce the "historic legislation" in the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

"The fact that civil society and government have joined hands to evolve a consensus to move this historic legislation augurs well for our democracy. I am pleased that Anna Hazareji has agreed to give up his fast", he said.

The Bill had been pending since it was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1969 but could never get past the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House, despite being introduced on nine occasions, the last time in 2008.

With inputs from PTI