‘If Anna’s fight does not move
you, there is definitely
something wrong with you’
The turnout may have fallen far short of expectations but there was no dearth of enthusiasm, Sanchari Bhattcharya
discovered on Day One of Anna Hazare’s aborted three-day fast in Mumbai last week
Armchair skeptics and detractors of activist Kisan Baburao ‘Anna’ Hazare had a gala time last week. Even before it began, they predicted that his activist’s
three-day fast in Mumbai would be a flop show, that not
even 500 people would venture to the MMRDA ground in
suburban Bandra to support the protest fast, that reporters
would outnumber Hazare’s supporters and television cam-
eras would just focus on the handful of people present to
create the illusion of a massive turnout.
Maybe the naysayers did not go to the MMRDA ground
where Hazare, along with his aides Arvind Kejriwal and
Kiran Bedi, was on a protest fast to demand a strong
The turnout, at the ground located at the heart of a
bustling office district in suburban Mumbai, was probably
not up to Team Anna’s expectations. A senior journalist
recalled that at New Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan — where
Hazare observed a protest fast for 12 days in August — the
crowd was so thick that one barely had space to move.
Considerable chunks at the Mumbai venue seemed
vacant. The number of hawkers selling the Indian flag was
few. Not too many counters were serving food.
Still, thousands of people did turn up to express their
support for the 74-year-old Hazare. Some of them might
Anna’s poll call
Smarting under poor response and bad health, Anna Hazare
December 28 called off his fast a day ahead of schedule and repeat-
ed his threat to campaign against the Congress party —for not
bringing a strong Lokpal — in the five poll-bound states.
The 74-year-old activist made the announcement midway
through his three-day fast in Mumbai, which reported poor atten-
dance of people for the second continuous day, in stark contrast to
the mass swelling in Delhi during his three fasts in 2011.
have been idlers who came out of sheer curiosity; some may
have just wanted a free lunch.
Piyush Bose, who was selling the Tricolor outside the
venue, said he had sold only three flags. During Hazare’s
fast in Delhi, he said, he used to sell 40 to 50 flags a day.
Many citizens of India’s busiest city sat patiently in the
unpleasantly warm venue, without even a canopy, sporting
‘I am Anna’ caps and ‘I am with Anna Hazare’ banners.
They brandished posters and flags to express their dedica-
tion to the cause. They sat through several meandering
speeches by Team Anna members and other.
“Why are you media people so cynical? Why can’t you
portray anything in a positive light?” asked Amish Shah.
He was waving a particularly large Tricolor, inadvertently
hitting some people with it.
Shah, an information technology professional, was also
A child at Anna Hazare’s fast venue in Mumbai
fed up of journalists asking him if he believed Hazare’s
movement would succeed.
“How can you sit in an air-conditioned office and make
judgments about the movement? Come out here and see
the kind of support that man has. He is not getting any-
thing out of this, he is fighting for all Indians. If Anna’s
fight does not move you or affect you, there is definitely
something wrong with you,” he said.
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