‘Anna as a common man has done what none of the political parties has done'

On a good day she earns up to Rs.300, stringing colourful beads together and making trinkets. For the past few days, there has been a slight increase in her business at India Gate here as someone helpfully suggested that she make Anna bracelets.

Kiran has no idea who Anna Hazare is or why the crowds are thronging India Gate and why they are asking her to join in the protest. When someone explained it was against corruption, she woefully pointed out it should have been against mehngai (inflation). But on Tuesday, as crowds marched from there to Jantar Mantar, Kiran and her colleagues did their two bit for the social activist: they stringed beads together to design his name for supporters and walked round India Gate with the marching contingent.

“We don't know what the fuss is about, but if so many educated and rich people are complaining, it must be something important,” she said.

Not all are as clueless about Anna Hazare and his Jan Lokpal Bill. While a sizable number of protesters out on the roads are familiar with the broader aspects of what Team Anna wants, a significant section can actually hold forth on the issue. “It is the arrogance of the politicians and the media to assume that the common man is a fool. They think we are here because it is ‘cool' to be part of a movement like this. A lot of people may not know the minute details of the Bill the government proposes or the draft that Team Anna wants, but they are aware of what the cause is,” said Shruti Jolly, an IT consultant.

Supporters are angry at being constantly quizzed whether they know the details of the Bill or why Mr. Hazare is protesting. A large section even claims that the protest is not about the Lokpal Bill anymore, it is about “corruption” and that every “common man” knows.

The common man has made this protest his own.

“We are here to express our anger with the system that is plagued with corruption. The Bill is one aspect, corruption is the bigger picture. Is there anyone in India today who can claim that corruption has not affected his life? We are here to show support for what Anna has done, because he as a common man has done what none of the political parties has done. The common man wants a Lokpal Bill that will help people, and that is why they are on the streets,” said Col. R.P. Singh, who took voluntary retirement from the Army. Does the mass support for Team Anna in some way stem from the disdain for politicians and the proverbial red tape? Yes, said Avijit Sanyal (name changed), a Bharat Heavy Electrical employee, whose colleagues have been joining the support groups after work.