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Anna Hazare calls off fast

MUMBAI: Smarting under poor response and bad health, Anna Hazare today called off his fast a day ahead of schedule and repeated his threat to campaign against the Congress in the five poll-bound states for not brining a strong Lokpal.

The 74-year-old activist made the surprise announcement midway through his three-day fast at MMRDA grounds which reported poor attendance of people for the second continuous day in stark contrast the mass swelling in Delhi earlier this year during his three fasts.

Hazare did not make any reference to the earlier plans of coming to Delhi for a dharna of the residence of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and about the ‘jail bharo’ agitation after that.

"...Whatever we are seeing today in Parliament is tragic. So, I have decided to call off the fast today. There is only one way now. We will make a programme in the five states and go and awaken people there. I will tell them don't vote for traitors," he told a sparsely attended protest meeting in the afternoon.

"Now two years are left for the general elections. In between, I will go to various parts of the country and keep awakening the people till next general elections," he said.

The ending of the fast by Hazare, who was having fever of 100 degree F, came doctors advised him to call off his protest saying continuing it will lead to kidney failure.

Hazare said he was already fasting four days before the start of the protest strike yesterday here. — PTIBack


Lokpal Bill gets President's nod

NEW DELHI: President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday gave her nod to the amended Lokpal Bill, as approved by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, paving the way for its introduction in the Rajya Sabha.

It is now up to the government to decide if it wants to introduce the bill in the Upper House Wednesday afternoon or Thursday.

"The President has given her assent to the amended Lokpal Bill," Archana Dutta, the Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson, said here.

Patil is in Hyderabad at her winter holiday home, where the amended Bill was sent by the government after the Lok Sabha passed it in an over 12-hour sitting Tuesday night.

The government had earlier in the day said that it would introduce the Bill in the Rajya Sabha soon after the President's nod to the amendments.  — IANS



India-Australia Test evenly poised

Melbourne: On a day of wildly fluctuating fortunes, India suffered a stunning batting collapse but their bowlers fought back brilliantly to leave the first cricket Test against Australia tantalisingly poised here today.

Replying to Australia's 333, the visitors lost eight wickets within 68 runs to be bundled out for 282 in their first innings before the bowlers led by the young Umesh Yadav brought them back in the match.

Australia were 179 for 8 in their second knock, leading India by 230 runs on a day when 15 wickets fell on what appears to be a difficult yet not an impossible MCG pitch.

Importantly, for the hosts, under-fire veteran Michael Hussey (79) was still holding his ground though fortuitously since Rahul Dravid at first slip dropped a sitter off him when the left-hander was on 69.

Hussey, the highest scorer of the match so far, has now batted for 197 minutes and 134 balls and hit seven fours during the course of his fighting knock that has kept Australia in the hunt after yet another top-order batting collapse.

With two full days left in the game, India will look to restrict Australia's lead to under-250 and push for victory while the hosts will also fancy their chances.

Umesh was the pick of Indian bowlers with 4 for 49, but no less significant was Zaheer Khan's twin strikes off successive overs in the final session and the good support which Ishant Sharma and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin provided.

The hosts were precariously placed at 27 for four at one stage before former captain Ricky Ponting (60) and Hussey pulled things back with a 115-run fifth-wicket partnership.

India resumed the day on 214 for 3 but added only 68 runs before losing the final seven wickets today. — PTI





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