The common man loves a song. And more so if it is about the country. On Friday afternoon when the rain came battering down at the Ramlila Maidan, there was a momentary fear that the crowds would melt away, but in almost Hindi film style a patriotic number began playing and worked its magic. The wetness and the muck were forgotten and it was back to supporting “Anna's andolan.”
While some huddled under umbrellas, others let the rain and the singing rouse their patriotic fervour. “We cannot go back now. It is only rain, we are prepared to face worse,” said Ramvilas Chander, a trader from the nearby Chandni Chowk.
Calling himself “Anna ka sipahi” (Anna's soldier) Mr. Chander said the crowds “will not be deterred by weather or weapons.” Lata and Sarasa, employed with a diplomatic mission, too braved the rain and came to show their support for the movement.
“It is a movement against corruption and we have to be here. It is time for a revolution in our country and Anna has been that one leader that we need for showing us the path,” the duo said.
Fiery speeches about the cause and about Mr. Hazare himself drew applause. Some likened him to a true soldier, others borrowed from the Mahabharata —calling him a modern day “avatar,” and some even eulogised him as the true son of the soil. But it was the singers and the singing that really drew the crowds, held their attention and got them to respond.
“These songs and hymns give me goose bumps. The spirit here is liberating, the atmosphere festive. It is such an amazing gathering that has come together,” said Sunalini Nair, an advertising professional who has been joining the crowds after work first outside Tihar Jail and now at Ramlila Maidan.
In the milling crowds there were students, professionals, housewives all wearing their “Anna” identity on their sleeves. “Main bhi Anna, tub hi Anna, ab to sara desh hai Anna” (I am Anna, you are Anna, now the whole country is Anna) resonated through the Maidan.
Supporters came in groups, some dressed in costumes, others with painted torsos, some role-played for the TV cameras and some silently watched.
And as the afternoon rolled into evening the numbers grew. Police personnel and volunteers struggled to control the mass of people that just kept turning up, waiting to go inside.
Sabita Rebecca and Ashok Betraj came all the way from Bangalore. “We wanted to be part of this historic movement. I missed a protest of this kind in Bangalore, so we flew down here,” said Ms. Rebecca. Anna's movement they said is the beginning of larger reforms.