Anna breaks fast, to continue fight against graft

Anna Hazare ended his 98-hour long hunger strike for a strict anti-corruption law at 10:53 AM on Saturday after the Government agreed to most of the demands put forward by the veteran social activist and Gandhian.

"I have given up on my hunger strike, the reason is because the Government has issued a notification (on setting up of a committee to draft the Lokpal Bill)," said Hazare after breaking his fast.

"The hunger strike lasted for five days. It is very important to note that people from all the caste and religion joined me. We have shown the world that we are united, there is no religion, caste or community. I want to thank the media for spreading the word to the world. Media is the fourth pillar and its very powerful to spread the word to the entire nation. I will meet all my supporters across the country. They supported me from their states," he said.

Calling the fight to eradicate corruption from India the second "Independence Movement", the 72-year-old Hazare said, "The youth power standing united against corruption is a ray of hope to our country. Our responsibility has increased after the first success that we have received after this notification. It is a long road ahead. We have to put more pressure on the government to eradicate corruption."

Hazare also called for electoral reforms so that people with clean image are elected to the legislative bodies and demanded 'none of the above' option during the voting process.

"The election system has to change. The government should change the electric machine system, it has errors. If there are 10 parties contesting during elections, the 11th option should be 'vote none'. If the percentage of the 11th option is more, the election should be considered null and void. There are several other struggles that our country is facing and not just Lokpal bill. We will meet again," he added.

The 50:50 Committee to draft a stronger Lokpal Bill is finally a reality with the Government issuing a gazette notification on joint committee to draft a strong Lokpal Bill on Saturday morning as demanded by Hazare and the civil society.

Hazare, however, said that his campaign for a strict anti-corruption law would continue and claimed that the massive protests scared the Government and it agreed to the demands put forward by the anti-corruption campaigners. He also warned the Government to ensure that the Lokpal Bill is pssed in Parliament's monsoon session.

In the agreement, the government has committed itself to introducing the new Lokpal Bill in the forthcoming monsoon session of Parliament. Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily will be the convener of the 10-member Joint Drafting Committee that will commence its work forthwith and evolve its own procedures to prepare the proposed legislation.

The five members of the civil society include Hazare, senior lawyers Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan, RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal and Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde. Shanti Bhushan will be the co-Chairman along with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

The Government will be represented by Mukherjee, Sibal, Moily, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Water Resources Minister Salman Khurshid.

The drafting committee will complete its work by June 30 and the Cabinet approval will be taken before the start of the monsoon session. The monsoon session of Parliament is likely to start in the first week of July.

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