NGO India Against Corruption's estimates of hosting 50,000 people on Day One of Anna's fast at MMRDA ground seemed over the top, after not more than 5,000 showed up
He came. He saw. And by what he saw, it was apparent he hadn't conquered. Not on Day One at least.
In the days prior to the Anna Hazare's fast, extensive media coverage set the tone to give the impression that the activist would take the city "by storm". But if there is any truth in numbers, a rumbling was all that the inaugural day of Hazare's 3-day protest fast saw.
Wait and watch: Team Anna's supporters are expecting the crowds to
swell on the last day of the protest at the MMRDA ground in Bandra-Kurla
Complex. PIC/Sayed Sameer Abedi
While Team Anna expected a crowd of about 50,000 to be present at MMRDA ground, BKC on day one, there was not more than one tenth of that number on the grounds. At any given point, there were no more than 4,000-5,000 people throughout the day.
Did Mumbai disappoint Team Anna? The India Against Corruption (IAC) members claim they had nearly 16,000 people yesterday. One of the NGO's spokespersons said, "It's the heat that has kept the people away. We are sure people would come back."
At 4 pm, the NGO said they had nearly 16,000 people registered who promised their support and presence, but not even half that number was present at the ground.
Why they left
What kept the anti-corruption champion's supporters away? "I had come to mark my attendance and after it was done, I decided to leave," said Babli Mohite, who had bunked office to attend the rally and left by 4.30 pm.
A group of youngsters who had come to participate in the agitation left around the same time, citing work. Another attendee, Bhavesh, said, "I was here for some time, then I got some urgent work and had to leave."
Unforeseen circumstances, emergency, urgent work, prior engagement -- the response from followers beating a retreat from the ground had the same undertone when they were posed the question.
Some got impatient when asked if they would come back the next day. A woman who didn't give her name said with knitted brows, "I came to have a look and the moment I did that I decided to leave," she said.
Rekha Udar spent a few hours on the ground with her husband but decided to leave by evening. Asked whether she was coming again the next day, she said, "I was here for the first day, we haven't yet decided about coming tomorrow."
A TV journalist said that in the morning she had zeroed in on some potential interviewees for her show in the evening. But by then, none of the chosen candidates were seen at the venue.
Expect more on Day 3
But IAC members are hopeful that people would show up in huge numbers on the last day. Anjali Damani, one of the IAC coordinators, said, "In the evening, the crowd has grown in size. There are nearly 15,000-16,000 people at the ground now. We are sure there will be a heavy turnout on the last day of the protest as the movement will gain momentum."
One of the protestors, on her way out, summed it for her fellow citizens. "We Mumbaikars cannot afford to spend the entire day at the ground. It is far away for most of us, and it takes a long while to return home. We will have to leave early if we are to get a spot on the crowded trains back."
Told you so
Munna Tripathi, who has dragged Anna Hazare to court claiming that his agitation is unconstitutional, said, "This shows the lack of the common man's trust in Anna's agitation. Many have realised that he isn't fighting for a cause. That is why Mumbaikars aren't turning up."