Anna ends fast, says fight will continue
New Delhi: A day after his fast for a strong Lokpal culminated into a victory for both the civil society as well as Parliament, anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare on Sunday ended his hunger strike.
Anna broke his 288-hour fast by drinking coconut water with honey, given to him by two girls - Simran and Iqra, one a Dalit and the other a Muslim.
Addressing the crowd at Ramlila Maidan after ending his fast, the social activist described it as a victory of every Indian.
"I thank all of you for today. It`s your success," he said, referring to the Parliament agreeing to the three crucial points demanded by Team Anna for a strong Lokpal.
He also described it as a victory of the media for waking up the people of this country.
Vowing his fight will continue, the 74-year-old told thousands of his cheering supporters at the Ramlila Maidan: "I have just suspended the fast... did not end it. The fight will go on till Parliament passes the Lokpal Bill."
The Gandhian said the anti-corruption movement was a lesson for the world to learn as to how to wage a non-violent battle.
"I am very happy that a movement of this enormity was non-violent. You have set an example to the whole world," Hazare said amid loud applause.
Anna said the movement instilled trust in us that we can remove corruption from this country.
Asking people to be alert and keep a watch on the Lokpal process, Anna said the movement would have to restart if Parliament fails to pass a strong Lokpal Bill.
Anna said it is the power of the people that made Parliament take a decision on Lokpal.
Listing out his future strategy, Anna said there is a need to strengthen village councils and change the electoral system by including the right to recall.
"We have to change the election system of the country... we have the right to reject," he said, adding that people should be allowed to use the option not to vote if they don`t like any candidate.
Referring more than once to BR Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution and champion of Dalit cause, Hazare said "justice must be ensured for the farmers of the country who are in a pitiable state today". He also talked about bridging the rich-poor divide and fighting against commercialisaion of education.
"The fight has begun with the Lokpal bill. That`s why I have just suspended the fast, did not end it," he said.
He also had a word for those who sported Gandhi caps with the `I am Anna` written on it.
"You cannot become Anna just by wearing the cap. You have to have pure thoughts, work diligently, be unselfish, be ready to sacrifice and be able to tolerate cynicism...," Hazare said.
Meanwhile, the Gandhian is now at Medicity hospital in Gurgaon to receive medical care. He is likely to stay there for at least two-three days.
It was earlier expected that Anna would first go to Rajghat after breaking his fast, but members of Team Anna decided against it due to health concerns.
Hazare has lost at least 7.5 kg since August 16 when he sat on a hunger strike for a strong Lokpal Bill. He now weighs 64.5 kg.
Prior to Anna breaking his fast, a key Team Anna member, Arvind Kejriwal addressed the crowd and thanked one and all who made the 12-day-long agitation possible.
He also thanked the Prime Minister, Parliament and MPs for accepting their demands.
Kejriwal further called on Anna supporters to gather at India Gate at 6.00 pm this evening for celebrations.
In a win-win situation for both the sides, Parliament on Saturday passed a unanimous resolution by desk thumping. The resolution called for a strong Lokpal while in principle agreeing to the three key demands of Team Anna - citizen`s charter, lower bureaucracy under Lokpal through an appropriate mechanism and establishment of Lokayukta in the states.
The development meant while people’s voice reigned supreme, Parliament’s supremacy to legislate was also upheld.
The resolution will now be taken up by the Parliamentary Standing Committee examining the Lokpal Bill and the government has promised the legislation will be passed soon.
After receiving a letter from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh informing him about the resolution, Anna had announced that he will break his fast on Sunday but the fight will continue as the battle is only half won.
"This victory of Jan Lokpal Bill is a partial victory. A full victory is yet to be achieved," he said while noting that Parliamentarians have respected his three demands.
To witness the social activist break his fast, a huge crowd gathered at the Ramlila Maidan – the centre-stage of Anna`s fight for a strong Lokpal Bill.
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