Left out in the cold
They came, they saw, they went back in a huff. The first day of the much-publicised agitation by Anna Hazare saw more media personnel and police than actual participants. The second day wasn't much better, with volunteers reportedly coerced into dragging along family members in order to swell crowds.
Amusingly, the only time a large number of people streamed into the MMRDA ground was around lunch. The free food was clearly a bigger draw than the many speakers on stage. By 7 pm on Day two, it was all over. Anna Hazare broke his fast, the act lit by a thousand flashbulbs. Outside, thousands of cars streamed past as usual, ferrying uninterested occupants home to rest before another busy workday.
Team Anna may spend a fair amount of time trying to figure out just what went wrong. Why did just 5,000 turn up when 50,000 did the last time? Was it bad timing, coinciding with the end of the year? Was it the uninterrupted hype on news channels? Was it the uninspiring speakers, a lack of clarity on where the movement was headed, or plain old Mumbai apathy? Chances are it was a combination of all this and more.
What the people behind India Against Corruption now need to do is probably a bit of introspection. Blaming the indifference of Mumbai is easy, but there are more difficult questions that need to be answered. Publicity is all very well when there is a clear message being issued. This time around, the message appeared muddled. At times, it was hard to figure out if there was a point to it all.
As the people on Twitter put it, in Delhi it was the cold that deterred Team Anna. In Mumbai, it was the cold shoulder. Will Anna Hazare get another chance?