Vehicle rally tomorrow, Sunday, in show of horsepower for Hazare; supporters say it is final assault for Lokpal
Where there is a wheel, there is a way. Or, where there are wheels, there is a way to protest corruption. Mumbaikars must brace themselves for a car-bike rally in support of Anna Hazare and the Lokpal cause. This rally, being billed by Hazare's India Against Corruption (IAC), organisation rather combatively, as, 'The Final Assault', is a show of power and protest against a watered down version of the Lokpal Bill.
Fast forward: Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare breaks his fast on
the 13th day of his hunger strike at the Ram Lila grounds in New Delhi,
on August 28, 2011. Pic/AFP
Says an IAC spokesperson, "Nearly 2,500 vehicles -- cycles, bikes, super bikes, private cars, taxis, vans, buses, trucks, tempos, ambulances, school vans and school buses will move at 10.30 am on Sunday, December 11, 2011 from Shivaji Park to Azad Maidan to demand a strong, comprehensive and effective Lokpal bill."
IAC says that the response has been "overwhelming" and "we have informed the traffic authorities about the rally. They do not have any objections." IAC adds that, "All vehicles are supposed to leave from Shivaji Park and once they reach Azad Maidan they will be parked in parking lots outside. Hazare's supporters will then congregate in the Maidan."
Riding high on hype, hoopla and sometimes hyperbole, the IAC says that, "Never before has Mumbai seen such a large turnout from all sections of society, ordinary citizens ranging from school children to artists, from dabbawallas to super bikers, from luxury car owners to truck drivers, all will come together under the tricolour for India's second freedom struggle against corruption."
While the gung-ho spirit is evident, the organisers of the India Cyclothon, which is held under the aegis of the Cycling Federation of India (CFI), are cautious. Says Satish Menon, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), for Sport18 that holds the event, "The IAC had contacted me but I said we cannot put forth a directive to cyclists to join in the event. We are a sporting body and not aligned to a political cause. I told them to use social media like Facebook and other avenues to tell cyclists about the rally."
The program begins at Shivaji Park, volunteers are to distribute flags, caps and banners and then, there will be a flag off of different groups-- the cyclists will go first and they will be joined by the dabbawallas and followed by bikes and super bikes.
Mumbai biker Sushant Joshi says, "I expect at least 200 to 300 bikers of all classes to join in. I think the youth of our country should do something for India besides working and studying. I believe in the Anna cause and this is a great way to show that commitment."
Joshi plans to spend Sunday at the Azad Maidan, which means he will be witness to activities there, where IAC says there would be a float of specially-abled performers from Udaan performing for the cause. There are to be speeches, street plays and mock parliaments -- it is a multi-pronged creative effort to hammer the message home.
The IAC says the, "fervour" is, "building up." Fervour is certainly what Anil Garg, President of the School Bus Owners' Association displayed when he asked in response to a question about why he is joining in the rally. "Why not? Don't you think the fight against corruption is a worthy one?" Garg says at least 40 school buses would be seen on the roads, "They will not be from a particular school but from all across the city."
School buses will not be the only heavy vehicles on the road Adding to all that horse power is Bombay Goods Transport Association, where 30 to 40 lorries and trucks are expected to roll along as well. Says J K Jain, honorary general secretary of the Association, "We will festoon the vehicles with banners. Anna's cause is good and noble we support it completely. Despite being the backbone of the industry we are being neglected. Everybody from santri to mantri is harassing us and that is why I support this strongly."
If that is a truckload of woes coming in to Azad Maidan, there are a few things in smaller packages too. A ladies taxi service Viira Cabs, is pressing its fleet of 14 silver 'n' blue cabs in service of the no corruption cause. "We think it is entirely appropriate to forgo business for a day, and participate in the rally," says Revathi Roy, Mentor and Chief Driving Officer, Viira Cabs. For Revathi, it is not just the Lokpal, "But the day-to-day corruption that the common man has to deal with, which is the real cause. Our cry will be for that."
All participants are expected to keep a day long fast, in support of Anna who will be concurrently fasting at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi for that day. They all will have to live on love for the cause, not-so-fresh air (with all those vehicles roaring in) and Annadrenalin.
2,500 The number of vehicles expected at the rally