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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Hazare satisfied with draft Lokpal Bill, to call off strike after RS passage

Satyajit Joshi, Hindustan Times  Ralegan Siddhi, December 14, 2013
First Published: 21:02 IST(14/12/2013) | Last Updated: 21:11 IST(14/12/2013)

Welcoming the amended Lokpal Bill tabled in the Rajya Sabha, anti-graft activist Anna Hazare announced on Saturday that he would call off his hunger strike after the bill was passed.

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People know who has fought for Lokpal, Hazare said, adding the Congress was not aware of his struggle for the Right To Information (RTI), a key legislation to fight corruption.

Minutes after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi came out strongly in support of the bill at a press conference in Delhi, Hazare said most of his demands were satisfied.

Hazare, whose indefinite fast at Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra entered the fifth day, has spearheaded the movement for the Lokpal Bill. Passed by the Lok Sabha, the bill is now under the consideration of the Upper House of Parliament.

Hazare’s supporters have already started celebrations after Gandhi's press conference, where the Congress leader requested all parties to support the bill.

Hazare said his main contentions were the inclusion of Prime Minister, and Grade 2 and 3 officers, CBI control and the constitution of Lokpal.

All these issues have been addressed properly, the anti-corruption crusader said. He, however, did not miss out on the opportunity to take a dig at Gandhi.

Commenting on his claim that the Congress brought the RTI, Hazare said, “Rahul Gandhi is not aware of my struggle for RTI. I had fought for the RTI for eight years before the central government introduced it in 2005. I have written a book on the subject and will send a copy to him.”

Hazare also distanced himself from the Aam Aadmi Party, which has threatened to launch a separate agitation if the bill was diluted. “It is a political party now and can take independent decisions.”

Hazare and AAP founder Arvind Kejriwal, before the formation of the party, were together under the banner of India Against Corruption in the campaign for the bill. But, differences have surfaced between Hazare and the AAP of late.

On Friday, Hazare publicly snubbed an AAP leader who interrupted former Army Chief Gen VK Singh’s speech at the fast venue. Singh had apparently taken a dig at Kejriwal, saying, “We should not split and form different groups in our fight against corruption for personal gains.” 

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