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'You woke up the government from its slumber'

Last updated on: April 9, 2011 12:44 IST

'You woke up the government from its slumber'

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Gandhian Anna Hazare on Saturday called off his hunger strike bringing to an end his 98-hour protest after government issued a gazette notification constituting a 10-member Joint Committee of ministers and civil society activists, including him, to draft an effective Lok Pal Bill.

Curtains were drawn on the anti-corruption campaign that drew instant nationwide support with a little girl giving the 73-year-old activist a glass of water at 10.45 am at Jantar Mantar, the nerve-centre of the agitation for a strong legislation to combat political and administrative graft.

Earlier, Hazare offered water to some women, among the over 300 activists who had joined the fast.

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Image: Video grab shows Anna Hazare breaking his fast

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'If youth decide they can turn the politics of the country'

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Talking to his supporters, Anna said: "Our fight against corruption does not end here. We will continue the fight."

"This is a victory of people. There is still a long way to go. The real fight begins now," he added.

"I have broken the fast because the government has conceded to our demands. I thank all those who stood for anti-corruption and we are all one for our contry."

"Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Raj Guru had woken the English government and took away its sleep. Through your support, you have woken up the present government from its slumber."

"The people's movement has enhanced India's prestige. The youth has awakened. That is a good sign. If youth decide they can turn the politics of the country," Anna said.


Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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'I am pleased that Anna has given up his fast

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Social activists Swami Agnivesh, Medha Patkar and Kiran Bedi hailed Hazare's campaign as the Gandhian said he would to continue the fight for the "second struggle for independence".

In the morning, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issued a statement saying the government intends to introduce the "historic legislation" in the Monsoon session of Parliament.

He described the coming together of civil society and government on the Lok Pal Bill issue as a step that augurs well for democracy, saying it signifies the mutual resolve to combat corruption.

"I am pleased that Anna Hazare has agreed to give up his fast," he said after his ministers worked out a deal with Hazare's emissaries on Friday night to bring to end the protest at Jantar Mantar.


Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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'Jjust the beginning of a long struggle'

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Shouts of 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' rent the air as Hazare's followers and admirers gathered in hundreds, just a stone's throw from Parliament, celebrated the notification that was proudly displayed at the fast site.

Making a brief speech after he broke his fast, the veteran Gandhian said it was just the beginning of a long struggle ahead and he would not rest content with the Lok Pal Bill but also fight for reforms of the electoral system, including the 'right to recall' from gram panchayat level.

The notification by the Ministry of Law and Justice said the Joint Drafting Committee to prepare a draft of the Lok Pal Bill will have five ministers from the government and five nominees of Hazare, including himself.


Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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The Joint Drafting Committee

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The five ministers are Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Chairperson, Home Minister P Chidamabaram, Law Minister Veerappa Moily (Convenor), HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Water Resources Minister Salman Khurshid.

The civil society will be represented by Hazare, former Supreme Court judge N Santosh Hegde, former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan (Co-Chairperson), lawyer Prashant Bhushan and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal.

The notification said the Joint Drafting Committee will commence work forthwith evolving its own procedure to prepare the proposed legislation.

The committee shall complete its work latest by June 30, it said.

Kejriwal told media persons that by Monday it would be known as to when the committee would hold its first meeting.


Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
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