New Delhi: Veteran social activist and Gandhian Anna Hazare on Saturday called off his hunger strike after government issued a gazette notification constituting a 10-member Joint Committee of ministers and civil society activists, including him, to draft an effective Lokpal Bill.

Curtains were drawn on the anti-corruption campaign that drew instant nationwide support with a kid giving the 73-year-old activist a glass of water at 10.45 am at Jantar Mantar, the nerve-centre of the agitation.

Earlier, bringing to an end his 98-hour protest Hazare offered water to some women, among the over 300 activists who had joined him on the fast.

Social activists Swami Agnivesh, Medha Patkar and Kiran Bedi hailed Hazare's campaign as the Gandhian said he would to continue the fight for the ‘second struggle for independence’.

Slogans of 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' rented the air as Hazare's followers and admirers gathered in hundreds and celebrated the notification that was proudly displayed at the fast site.

Making a brief speech after he broke his fast, the Gandhian said it was just the beginning of a long struggle and he would not rest content with the Lokpal Bill adding that he would also fight for reforms of the electoral system, including the 'right to recall' from gram panchayat level.

Hazare said, "Our fight against corruption does not end here. We will continue the fight. This is only the beginning. If the government does not pass Lok Pal Bill, I will come back to fight again." He set August 15 as the deadline for passage of the proposed bill.

"This will set their (candidates using money power) mind right," Hazare said. He insisted that this agitation had given him great strength and urged that ‘people with a clean image’ should join the movement.

"I am ending the fast because the government has accepted our demands. What is of utmost importance is that in the last few days, people have shown to the world that we are one on an issue which relates to the country. People stood united here, irrespective of caste, religion and community," Hazare said.

Hazare said Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev had through their sacrifice thrown out the British and ‘now this people's revolution has disturbed the peace of the present-day rulers’.

Hailing the role of the media in publicising the protest world over, he said this has proved what the fourth estate of democracy can achieve.

Hazare also said the way the ‘youth power’ has come out to support the movement has offered a ‘new ray of hope for the future’. He thanked various civil society organisations and individuals for their support to the camapaign against corruption.

The deal came after three rounds of negotiations between Hazare's emissaries and union minister Kapil Sibal.

Protestors and supporters of the campaign erupted into cries of 'Vande Mataram', 'Bharat Mata ki Jai', 'Inquilab Zindabad' as Hazare announced that he was ending his fast as the government has agreed to their demands.

Notification on drafting panel

The notification by the Ministry of Law and Justice said the Joint Drafting Committee that would prepare a draft of the Lokpal Bill will have five ministers from the government and five nominees of Hazare, including himself.

The five ministers are Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Chairperson, Home Minister P Chidamabaram, Law Minister Veerappa Moily (Convenor), HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Water Resources Minister Salman Khurshid.

The Civil Society will be represented by Hazare, former Supreme Court judge N Santosh Hegde, former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan (Co-Chairperson), lawyer Prashant Bhushan and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal.

The notification said the Joint Drafting Committee will commence work forthwith evolving its own procedure to prepare the proposed legislation. The committee shall complete its work latest by June 30, it said.

PM promises legislation

In the morning, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issued a statement saying the government intends to introduce the ‘historic legislation’ in the Monsoon session of Parliament.

"I am pleased that Anna Hazare has agreed to give up his fast," Singh said after his ministers worked out a deal with Hazare's emissaries on Friday night.

Describing corruption a scourge that confronts all of us, the Prime Minister said, "The fact that the civil society and the government have joined hands to evolve a consensus to move this historic legislation augurs well for our democracy."

Hegde agrees to be member
Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde on Saturday said he has welcomed the government decision to appoint him as one of the members of the ten-member committee to draft the Lokpal Bill.

He said, "I am willing to serve as a member of the committee". Hegde on Friday declined to head the committee following speculations in this regard.

JPN/Agencies