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Fight against corruption: Battle won, war on

The instant of victory came on Saturday at 10.30am. Having humbled a government and captured the imagination of a nation, the frail 73-year-old broke his fast by first offering sips of water to women who had fasted with him. Anna Hazare then had a glass of juice.
The Gandhian leader's marathon ended on the fifth morning of his protest with a large crowd of supporters breaking into loud cheers even as hundreds more poured in at Jantar Mantar, ground zero of the campaign to ensure civil society's participation in drafting the Lokpal Bill.
Hazare held aloft a copy of the official notification constituting a joint committee and said "In this fight against corruption, India has won, not Anna. You have shown we are united. But the fight must continue." He warned he will be back if the law to combat corruption in public life is not passed by August 15.
That lies is in the future. On Saturday morning firecrackers went off and people smeared gulaal on one another, a celebration that will freeze frame a historical moment.
"I will not let this public movement die down. If the government does not pass the bill in Lok Sabha in the monsoon session, I will carry the national flag on my shoulders to protest once again," he said. "Next on my agenda is working for the right to recall," Hazare added.
Hazare pointed out the pitfalls. "I know that there will be further impediments in the implementation of this new bill, which will ensure action against corrupt politicians and bureaucrats and bring in accountability"
His question "Will you support me?" had the crowd roaring in affirmation. "Anna tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hain," they yelled.
The warning is well taken. It is a declaration of intent as Hazare and thousands who turned out in his support in several cities will know that their struggle for an effective anti-corruption ombudsman might be just beginning. Hard negotiation and parliamentary approval lie ahead.
There are larger implications of the four-day revolution. The swiftness with which the official Goliath succumbed to Hazare's simple but powerful message changed some rules the political class feels are immutable. Arrogance of power met an irresistible force.
With grammar of politics and governance rewritten after effects of civil society getting its foot through the policy door will emerge. Although the Jantar Mantar rumble is not be easy to replicate as the aam aadmi's extraordinary anger gave the protest its dangerous edge, more civil society offensives are certain.
The debate over unelected persons – and unelectable as politicians whisper — wielding power will intensify although the heady April feeling is exhilarating. Somehow, the Gandhi topi-clad man from Maharashtra's heartland seems to have pushed back a weary cynicism over official inaction, offering hope that things can change.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a statement saw "an agreement in our mutual resolve to combat corruption. This is a scourge that confronts all of us. The Government intends to introduce the Lokpal Bill in Parliament during the monsoon session. The fact that civil society and government joined hands to evolve a consensus to move this historic legislation augurs well for our democracy."
Parliament will test the resolve the campaigners but at least this much is certain: India is likely to get a muscular lokpal sooner than later. The bill may be scrutinized by a standing committee and miss a deadline or two. But the people power on display – translated as votes for politicians – will make parties and leaders wary.
The increasing value of good governance will make such models more attractive. If after Bihar, the current round of assembly elections delivers a thumbs down to the "corrupt", the message will begin to really sink in.
The Gandhian himself led the crowd to sing patriotic songs like Ragupati Raghav Raja Ram and Vande Mataram. He had nothing to eat for four days, but the energy and enthusiasm seemed to feed him.

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