Hazare calls off fast; happy with outcome of talks with CM
Ralegan Siddhi (Maharashtra): Social activist Anna Hazare Tuesday called off his fast after a marathon meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and two Union ministers here.
Hazare, 81, had started his indefinite fast on January 30 over appointment of anti-corruption watchdogs.
After marathon talks with Fadnavis and the ministers, which stretched to over five hours, Hazare announced that he is 'satisfied' with the outcome of the discussions.
Hazare held talks with Fadnavis, Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh, Union minister of state for defence Subhash Bhamre and state water resources minister Girish Mahajan.
"Offering autonomous stature to the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) at state and centre level, tabling of Lokayukta bill in the next assembly session of Maharashtra and abiding the SC timeframe through a joint committee for Lokpal were the three demands for which I had started my agitation. I am satisfied with the assurances given to me by the government now and so am calling off my fast," Hazare told reporters Tuesday evening.
Hazare's close aide Sonpal Shastri will be one of the members of a committee which will be formed under the chairmanship of Radha Mohan Singh. It will complete its report by October this year for offering autonomous status to CACP, Fadnavis said.
"I have decided to call off my fast after satisfactory talks with Fadnavis and the other ministers," Hazare said.
The search committee for Lokpal is meeting on February 13 and will take further decisions as per the Supreme Court orders, Fadnavis said.
On the seventh day of Hazare's fast Tuesday, his doctor said lab tests showed a significant increase in his blood pressure and blood sugar. He has lost 5 kg weight since the fast began, the doctor said.
Earlier Tuesday, Fadnavis reached Hazare's native Ralegan Siddhi village in Ahmednagar district in the afternoon and held prolonged talks with him.
Hazare has sought appointment of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states where such statutory anti-corruption watchdogs do not exist, and resolution of farmers' issues.
He has also been demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations on ways to address agrarian distress, besides electoral reforms.
Locals who observed a bandh recently to show support for Hazare's agitation, restricted entry of government officials to the village on Tuesday.
Hazare had Monday claimed that senior BJP leaders who once vehemently backed his Lokpal demand had turned 'allergic' to it after coming to power and accused the ruling dispensation of betraying people who voted it to power in 2014.
"During my Ramlila Maidan agitation on Lokpal and Lokayukta, the entire country stood up. An atmosphere was created. That is the reason why you (BJP) came to power. Now you are betraying the people who brought you to power," Hazare had said.
"Leaders like Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj had once vehemently defended the Lokpal demand in Parliament. But after coming to power, they are mum over it. It looks like they are allergic to Lokpal and Lokayukta. The agitation brought them to power but they have forgotten it," Hazare had said.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray and water conservationist Rajendra Singh met Hazare on Monday and extended their support to his agitation. Thackeray asked him not to sacrifice his life for the "useless" government.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is an ally of the BJP at the Centre and in Maharashtra, had extended his support to Hazare, asking him to emulate socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan and lead an agitation against corruption.