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Anna protest draws a blank in Mumbai again

Living life in the fast lane isn’t what it used to be for Anna Hazare and his supporters.


Barren landscape:Very few people attended the ongoing protest by Team Anna at Azad Maidan yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Last year, around this time, Azad Maidan was teeming with people to support the activist who was on a hunger strike in Delhi. Anna is fasting again in the Capital, but Mumbaikars appear disenchanted. The lack of support from the public, some of the organisers claim, is affecting schedules. According to an insider, on Friday around 3.30 pm, Team Anna had planned a huge rally leading up to Vilasrao Deshmukh’s house in Worli. However, it was called off abruptly. The source says at least 300 people were expected to assemble, but only 50 showed up.

Confirming the cancellation, Preeti Sharma Menon, a coordinator for India Against Corruption (IAC), said, “Yes, the event of marching to Vilasrao’s house has been scrubbed. We have more important programmes lined up for the next two days, and that is where we wanted our energies to be concentrated. Hence, we called off the rally.”

She, however, claimed the movement has support of the people and denied the demonstration was cancelled because of lack of numbers.
The fact that Mumbaikars have been staying away from Azad Maidan, where several Team Anna members are protesting, has become quite evident.

But Hazare’s supporters have their own arguments.

Anjali Damania, another coordinator for IAC, contended that on the first day of the protest a huge crowd had gathered at the Maidan and organisers had to ask people to disperse. “We told the crowd that instead of gathering only at Azad Maidan, they should go to their own neighbourhoods and take the movement further. We have the support of the public,” she said. While the volunteers are trying to put up a brave front, the faces behind the veneers are tense, say sources. “Last year, there was an impromptu support from the people. However, this time we tried our best to gather crowds, but failed,” said a volunteer. 

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