Supporters who hit the streets are from all walks of life
The response to Team Anna's protest in Mumbai was lukewarm on Tuesday, compared to the popular support it received in New Delhi earlier. Though members of India Against Corruption claimed that 30,000 people visited the MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Authority) ground in the Bandra-Kurla Complex here, it did not look more than 3,000.
There was a spurt in the number of visitors between 3 and 5 p.m. IAC claimed that the number crossed 30,000, and the member in-charge of Anna Rasoi, kitchen serving free food, estimates a turnout of 20,000 people including mediapersons, organisers and whoever used a plate. The supporters who hit the streets though were from all walks of life and represented an entire spectrum of thought process. People had travelled from various parts of the country to participate in the movement. Many showed awareness of the Lokpal Bill and discussed its nuances. Everyone said they felt cheated by the government.
“What the government wants is a toothless Lokpal. If you sit in a chair, you have to accept the laws as well. If the MLAs and MPs have already declared their assets, why are they afraid of Lokpal?” asked Balasubramanium T S, a 42 year-old former employee of GE and Art of Living volunteer.
Krishna Balu (57), a tax consultant from Hyderabad, participated in the anti-corruption protests held by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev in New Delhi. Now “I came down all the way from Hyderabad to participate in this rally. We want to show our support to Anna. He is doing so much for the country. The Lokpal that the government wants has no powers and will be a puppet in the hands of the government,” he said.
“Democracy will speak now. It is high time that the corrupt politicians listened to the voice of the people. They will have to listen as we speak now. They will have to pass a Bill for strong and independent Lokpal. They will have to do it sooner rather than later,” said a physically challenged Naim Sheikh (40).
17- year-old Saumya Chaudhari, who is a standard XII student, left the preparation for her prelims to come to the ground and express support to Anna. She knew the nuances of the Lokpal Bill and expressed anger at government's apathy. “Government should respect people's views. We are not fools here. We know that the politicians are trying to malign Team Anna to divert the country's attention from the real issue.”
Many people, working in offices around the venue, made a cursory visit to the ground out of curiosity. “We have come to see Anna. He is doing good work,” said a person working in a nearby office. He did wish to be named and said he was not aware of the details of the Lokpal Bill.
Another person returned from the gate. “I had supported him last time. But this time I feel they have taken steps in a hurry, without giving Parliament enough time. Also, this protest looks more like a marketing event. I don't know how successful it is now. The support for the movement has definitely come down,” said 30-year old Supreeta Srinivas, who works in a nearby office.
Meanwhile, the registration for a ‘jail bharo' has crossed 1,80,000, IAC members said. While 1,60,000 people have registered on the website, 20,000 have registered through SMS. Nearly 100 people observed fast with Anna on Day One.