Terming the Centre's assurances over appointing a Lokpal and resolving farmer issues as "satisfactory", anti-graft activist Anna Hazare on Tuesday ended his week-long fast. Mr. Hazare's decision came after an intense, marathon closed-door meeting with Maharshtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Ministers Radha Mohan Singh and Subhash Bhamre. "I am satisfied with the results of this discussion and hence am ending my fast. Our demand was that an ombudsman was not being appointed despite the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act being passed in 2013.
Terming the Centre's assurances over appointing a Lokpal and resolving farmer issues as "satisfactory", anti-graft activist Anna Hazare on Tuesday ended his week-long fast.
Mr. Hazare's decision came after an intense, marathon closed-door meeting with Maharshtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Ministers Radha Mohan Singh and Subhash Bhamre.
"I am satisfied with the results of this discussion and hence am ending my fast. Our demand was that an ombudsman was not being appointed despite the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act being passed in 2013. A letter from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has assured that steps were being taken in this direction as per the Supreme Court's directives ," said the 81-year-old Mr. Hazare, addressing a joint press conference with Mr. Fadnavis in the evening.
The activist further said that Chief Minister Fadnavis had assured that a new Lokayukta Act for Maharashtra would be passed by the time of the next Budget Session of the State Legislature and that a joint drafting committee would soon be constituted over the same.
"This law [new Lokayukta Act for the State] which will be implemented in Maharashtra will give a new direction to the country. It will greatly help in reducing corruption in the rural hinterland and help resolve issues plaguing farmers," Mr. Hazare said.
The Joint Drafting Committee to create a new Lokayukta Act in the State would consist of members recommended by Mr. Hazare, said Mr. Fadnavis.
"Anna is a treasure to the State and his health is of utmost concern to us. So, we have requested him to call off his strike," said Mr. Fadnavis.
Chief Minister Fadnavis further said that to satisfy Mr. Hazare's demand that the Central Agriculture Commission be given autonomy on the lines of the Election Commission of India (ECI), a committee under Agriculture Minister Mr. Singh would be constituted which would include former Minister of Agriculture Sompal Shastri and a couple of members from the NITI Aayog.
"The committee will fulfill Anna's demands on agrarian issues, including his demand that the Centre implement the recommendations of the M.S. Swaminathan committee, in a time-bound manner," assured Mr. Fadnavis.
Earlier, Mr. Fadnavis, who cancelled a programme in Ramtek in Nagpur, and Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Radha Mohan Singh made haste to Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar to persuade Mr. Hazare to give up his fast and discuss in detail on his demands.
They, along with Union Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, State Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan and other bureaucrats had a marathon meeting lasting over five hours along with Mr. Hazare and members of his team including former Minister of Agriculture Sompal Shastri and activist Popatrao Pawar.
"Both the Centre and the State governments have taken full cognizance of Anna's demands and conveyed to him the processes we have set in motion to implement them... I have conveyed to him the letter from the PMO which says that the process of appointing a Lokpal was in motion by the Centre and that a meeting of the search committee has been scheduled on February 13," Mr. Fadnavis said.
"We have also accepted and are working on his [Mr. Hazare's] demands that the Centre implement the Swaminathan Committee recommendations, notably the C2+ 50% minimum support price (MSP) for farmers and some other demands best price for perishable items like vegetables," said the Chief Minister.
Mr. Fadnavis also said that the Centre had taken note for Mr. Hazare's demand for an increase in the fixed annual income announced for farmers in the interim budget in the form of the 'Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sanman Yojana' (PMKISAN) scheme.
"The Union Finance Minister has already said that the government was disposed to increase the fixed annual income and that State governments too would contribute towards it," Mr. Fadnavis said, expressing his gratitude to the villagers of Ralegan Siddhi and Team Anna members for exercising restraint during the duration of Mr. Hazare's fast.