After single-handedly provoking a people's revolution , the 72-year-old activist who launched what he calls "India's second freedom struggle" will end his four-day hunger strike on Saturday at 10 am.
It took Anna Hazare almost 5 days of fasting to accomplish every point of an agenda that seemed preposterously ambitious when the week began. Till India pitched in, expressing its solidarity with rallies around Mr Hazare's cause -to force the government to introduce a new tough law to combat corruption, and to ensure that politicians alone are not entrusted with its conception.
So the government has agreed that a committee will be set up with five representatives of civil society, including Mr Hazare, and five ministers. At the head will be two chairmen - a minister and an unelected representative. Mr Hazare is not entirely happy with the the wording 'Chairman' and 'co-Chairman'.
The government's unprecedented concessions were thrust upon it partly by Sonia Gandhi, who in a statement last night spelled out her support for his stand and urged him to end his fast. An equal amount of pressure was applied by lakhs of Indians online and offline, who dared the government to ignore the power of a people who swapped cynicism for a determination to be the change.
The turning point came this evening at 6 pm, when Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal met this evening with social activists Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Swami Agnivesh. At Jantar Manatar in Delhi, a short drive away, 6000 men, women and children sang "We shall overcome". A few minutes later, Mr Hazare addressed them, reassuring them that he was in good health. "You are my strength," he
After Mr Hazare said he did not want to be Chairman, activists suggested that former Chief Justice of India JS Verma or retired Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde head the committee. Mr Sibal said this morning that ministers would not be a part of a committee chaired by a non-elected representative. The government also said that it could not sanction Mr Hazare's request for government order on the formation of the committee- an informal announcement would have to suffice. At 5 this evening, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, "No government can abdicate its Constitutional responsibility by accepting the impossible condition."
But at two meetings - in the morning and evening - Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister urged senior ministers to end the impasse. At the same time, in separate letters to Mrs Gandhi and the Prime Minister, Mr Hazare urged them to be more proactive and supportive of the Lokpal Bill.
He urged Sonia Gandhi and her National Advisory Council - set up to interface with civil society and provide legislative and policy inputs - to discuss the "broad content of the Lokpal Bill... and recommend the outcome to the government." Mr Hazare has urged the Prime Minister to reconsider appointing Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as the head of the committee to draft the Lokpal Bill. "People are demanding non-political person as chair. I am not interested in this role. I propose Justice Verma or Justice Hedge as chair," he wrote.( Indian News Channels)
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