April 9, 2011 10:07:22 pm
Gandhian Anna Hazare ended his 98-hour hunger strike after government issued a gazette notification constituting a 10-member Joint Committee to draft an effective Lok Pal Bill,but he pledged a long struggle against corruption and for reform of the electoral system.
The 73-year-old anti-corruption campaigner called off his fast-unto-death campaign on the fifth day with a little girl giving him a glass of lime juice at 10.45 am at Jantar Mantar,the nerve-centre of the campaign for a strong law to combat political and administrative graft.
Earlier,Hazare offered water to some women,among the over 300 activists who had joined the fast saying it was a victory of people’s power. Celebrations broke out instantaneously in the capital and cities across the country.
“This just the beginning of the fight against corruption. Our responsibility has now increased,” he said,setting 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 and asked his supporters to be prepared for a “bigger battle”.
He said “power-hungry” politicians will not easily accept any bill having stringent provisions against corruption or “shed” the power they enjoy.
In a brief speech he made after he broke his fast,he said it was just the beginning of a long struggle ahead and would lead the fight for the “second struggle for independence”.
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.
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.
Giving in to demands from anti-corruption activists,the government issued a gazette notification on formation of a joint committee headed by senior minister Pranab Mukherjee to draft an effective Lokpal Bill.
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 committee will also include Law Minister Veerappa Moily,Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal,Home Minister P Chidambaram and Water Resources Minister Salman Khurshid as members.
Besides Hazare himself,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.
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