India’s anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare has ended his 288-hour fast yesterday but says the fight is far from over.
He has only "suspended" his fast not ended it, Anna Hazare (Kisan Baburao Hazare) said and added that his campaign for a strong Lokpal institution would continue till parliament passed the anti-graft bill.
"I have just suspended the fast... did not end it. The fight will go on till parliament passes the Lokpal bill," the 74-year-old told thousands of his cheering supporters at the Ramlila Maidan. He also called for peoples' participation for electoral reforms.
He broke his 13-day fast after sipping coconut water and honey offered by two young girls – Simran and Iqra – one a Dalit, the other a Muslim.
"I thank all of you for today. It's your success," he said, referring to the parliament agreeing to the three crucial points demanded by Team Anna for a strong Lokpal.
"We have to change the election system of the country... we have the right to reject," he said, adding that people should be allowed to use the option not to vote if they don't like any candidate.
Referring to BR Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian constitution and champion of Dalit cause, Hazare said "justice must be ensured for the farmers of the country who are in a pitiable state today". He also talked about bridging the rich-poor divide and fighting against commercialisaion of education.
"The fight has begun with the Lokpal bill. That's why I have just suspended the fast, did not end it," he said.
Thanking the youth of the nation for their immense support to the movement, Hazare described them as the strength of India.
"I am very happy that a movement of this enormity was non-violent. You have set an example to the whole world," Hazare said amid loud applause.
He also had a word for those who sported Gandhi caps with the 'I am Anna' written on it.
"You cannot become Anna just by wearing the cap. You have to have pure thoughts, work diligently, be unselfish, be ready to sacrifice and be able to tolerate cynicism...," Hazare said.