Social activist Anna Hazare on Thursday called off his hunger strike on the seventh day of his protest in New Delhi, saying the government has assured him of steps 'soon' towards appointing Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states and addressing agrarian issues he flagged by him.
At the venue at Ramlila Grounds in New Delhi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who acted as the emissary of the Centre along with Union Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Shekhawat, said that the National Democratic Alliance government has taken 'positive decisions' in response to the demands of Hazare and several other farmers' organisations.
Shekhawat, who read out a letter from Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh regarding Hazare's demands, said the government will also convey issues raised by the activist relating electoral reforms to the Election Commission.
The 80-year-old anti-corruption activist, however, said he was giving the government six months time till August to come good on its assurance and warned that his protest will again begin in September if the demands were not met.
Hazare ended his indefinite hunger strike with Fadnavis offering him coconut water. Maharashtra's Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan too was present at the protest venue, where close to 300 other protesters also ended their fast at the same time.
"They (government) have assured us they will make the appointments (of Lokpal and Lokayukta) as soon as possible. I will see till August and we will begin again in September. It should be done within a time frame. (Though) Chief Minister Fadnavis has said it will not even take six months, we will see," Hazare said.
"Sarkar aur janta alag nahi hoti...sarkar ka kaam hai janta ki bhalai, desh ki bhalai...aise andolan ki naubat nahi aani chahiye (the government and the public are not separate. The government's job is to do what is good for the people and the country. Things should not come to such a pass that protests are needed)," he said.
On his part, Fadnavis said, "Whatever demands Anna (Hazare) made have been accepted (by the central government)."
He said, "We have given a letter from the PMO to Anna…We told him about the reforms brought in connection with the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices and that a committee has been formed to give it autonomy...We have also explained to Anna in writing which components will fall under the (1.5 times) MSP (minimum support price)."
In his address after Hazare called off the protest, Fadnavis said the Centre is taking speedy steps to appoint Lokpal. He also assured the activist that the Maharashtra will be first among the states to have a Lokayukta.
Meanwhile, a man, who identified himself as Rajkumar Saini, hurled a shoe towards the stage where Hazare, Fadnavis and Shekhawat were present, but it was unclear as to whom it was aimed at.
He also flung some papers in the air and banged his head on a railing near the stage.
The man was whisked away by the police.
A small group of protesters present there accused the government of misleading Hazare and expressed displeasure over 'the issue of farm-loan waiver not being discussed at all'.
"We had come here to join the protest over agrarian issues. The loan waiver issue was not even discussed. The government has cheated. We will keep raising the issue," a protester, who identified himself as Rajesh Sharma from Haryana, said.