Hectic parleys between the Centre and the emissaries of Anna Hazare finally paid off late on Friday night, with the anti-corruption crusader announcing that he would end his fast on Saturday morning.
It took several rounds of talks within the government on issues relating to a joint draft committee for the Lokpal Bill before it agreed to the demands of Mr. Hazare.
“The government has accepted all our demands… this is a victory for the entire nation. I will end my hunger strike on Saturday morning,” Mr. Hazare told scores of supporters at the Jantar Mantar here. Since he launched his fast on Tuesday there has been a groundswell of support for his movement from across the country as well as abroad.
In his revised draft sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday morning, Mr. Hazare demanded that 50 per cent of the members of the committee be from civil society, and that it be headed by a non-political member.
This led to several rounds of discussions within the government. UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi met the Prime Minister in the presence of some senior Ministers.
In the evening, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal, along with his Cabinet colleagues M. Veerappa Moily and Salman Khurshid, met Mr. Hazare's emissaries — social worker Swami Agnivesh, RTI campaigner Arvind Kejriwal and the former IPS officer, Kiran Bedi.
They reached an agreement that the committee will have five Cabinet Ministers, with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as chairman. Of the five members from civil society, one will be co-chairman. It was also decided that the committee would prepare a draft law in time for it to be presented in the monsoon session of Parliament.
Soon Mr. Sibal made this announcement and thanked Mr. Hazare for deciding to end his protest. “This is a victory for democracy… It is for the government now to issue an appropriate order constituting the committee that will include representatives of civil society and government,” the Minister said. He denied that the government had succumbed to pressure.
10-member drafting committee
From the government side, the 10-member joint drafting committee will have Mr. Mukherjee, Mr. Moily, Mr. Sibal, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Mr. Khurshid.
Besides Mr. Hazare, civic society will be represented by the retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice Santosh Hedge; lawyer Prashant Bhushan, Mr. Kejriwal and the former Union Minister, Shanti Bhushan, who will also be co-chairman of the committee.