The year 2011 saw the emergence of an unlikely leader in Anna Hazare, who took the country by storm through his fight against the corruption. The 74-year-old Gandhian crusader launched India Against Corruption movement to press for a strict anti-graft legislation on April 5, 2011 with a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
On 7 April, Anna`s strike led to the resignation of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar from the GoM on Corruption. On 9 April, the UPA government finally agreed to form a joint committee of the representatives of the Government and the civil society to draft a stronger anti-corruption bill with stronger penal actions and more independence to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas. Anna suspended his fast and set a deadline for the Parliament to pass the Lokpal Bill by August 15. On July 18, miffed at the Centre’s slow response, Anna announced his decision to go on an indefinite fast from August 16 at Jantar Mantar. On the morning of August 16, Anna and his close aides were arrested by police and lodged in the Tihar central jail. Within hours of his detention, Anna began his hunger strike from within the jail. The government decided to release him but the Gandhian refused till the government did not grant him permission to fast.
The arrest of Anna and his close associates triggered a groundswell of protests across the country. With the pressure rising on the government, Bedi and Bhushan were released by the Delhi Police in the evening on the same day. On August 19, Anna was released from Tihar jail with a permission to hold fast for 15 days against corruption at Ramlila Maidan. After reaching the historic ground, Anna continued his hunger strike. Finally, a debate on the Jan Lokpal bill was held in Parliament on August 27. After the debate, both Houses of Parliament agreed in principle to Anna’s three key demands- (i) citizen charter, (ii) lower bureaucracy to be under Lokpal through an appropriate mechanism and (iii) establishment of Lok Ayuktas in the states.
Anna finally ended his fast on 28 and said that he was only suspending his fast for the time being and will end it only after the strong Lokpal bill is passed by the Parliament. He is again set to hold a fast-unto-death from December 27 if the Lokpal Bill is not passed in the current Winter Session of Parliament.