After Tuesday's poor turnout, Mumbai Coordinator Mayank Gandhi made a late-night appeal to volunteers, asking them to bring in friends and family for the protest
After the sparse turnout for Anna Hazare's fast on day one, day two saw the activist break fast unceremoniously, with speculation gaining among his supporters that he ended the fast a day early because of the lukewarm response.
Though organisers of the event peg the number of supporters on the ground yesterday at 30,000, this reporter has learnt that not more than 20,000 people had turned up. On Tuesday, the number was around 10,000.
The marginal difference came even as members of the NGO India Against Corruption (IAC) made an emotional appeal urging volunteers to spread the word among kith and kin to join in the agitation. At 10.30 pm on Tuesday night, in a meeting consisting of around 100 volunteers at the ground, IAC Mumbai Coordinator Mayank Gandhi had expressed dissatisfaction with the turnout and requested volunteers to ensure that there is better turnout on Wednesday.
While interacting with volunteers, one of the team leaders said, "It appears to me that the energy that is required to make any protest successful is lacking in this event and it has been proved by the lukewarm response to the programme. All of you should speak to your friends and families and ask them to join us at MMRDA ground in large numbers so that a positive message goes out across the country."
Each of the volunteers was asked to work out a strategy on how to bring more people to the ground on Wednesday.
Some supporters who had come to Mumbai from other cities especially for the agitation complained about the lack of planning and arrangement on the part of the organisers. A few complained that they had to sleep out in the cold, with no provisions for bedding.
Yogesh Dighe (26), who has come from Aurangabad, said, "It was only after coming here that I learnt I would have to sleep without a blanket in this chilling cold. The organisers should have at least provided us a blanket."
Senior citizen Tukaram Kashinath Ware (75), who frequently visits Mumbai to attend political rallies, said that he was stopped by arrogant IAC volunteers who asked him to leave the premises because he was carrying flags of various political parties.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Ware said, "From the year 1975, I have been coming to Mumbai to participate in the rallies of various political groups but was never stopped by anyone from entering the ground. The reason for carrying these flags is not to show support for any party but to tell people that all political parties are the same and they work for their own growth, not for the progress of the people. I explained this to the IAC members. Still, they asked me to leave the ground."
One supporter complained about the mobile toilets. "In the afternoon, the condition of toilet vans was all right.
But by night, they turned unhygienic. Since no one bothered to clean them, many supporters were left searching for public toilets." The toilets were given to IAC for a period of three days.
Munchies wean off crowd
Meanwhile, the free food counters at the ground were thronged by a huge crowd of people, at times even bigger than that on the ground. The volunteers felt that keeping the counters open most of the day invited people from nearby areas only to grab a complimentary bite.
To ensure that more people are present on the ground and not near the food stalls, the IAC members decided to keep the counters open for a limited period.