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Day 2: Flop show continues

Day 2 of the three-day agitation at Ramlila Maidan against the government's version of the Lokpal bill was no different from the first day.

delhi Updated: Dec 29, 2011 00:48 IST
HT Correspondents

Day 2 of the three-day agitation at Ramlila Maidan against the government's version of the Lokpal bill was no different from the first day.

Despite the relatively sunny day, only a few people were spread out across the sprawling grounds where India Against Corruption (IAC) volunteers had organised the Delhi episode of the agitation along with Anna Hazare's fast in Mumbai.

The protest started with around 200 people. There was a slight increase in the number of supporters by the afternoon but the crowd fizzled out in the evening as team Anna abruptly called off the protest and the jail bharo stir.

Kiran Bedi, IAC core committee member who came from Mumbai, tried to downplay the low turnout. "One should not go by the no. of people at Ramlila Maidan. The support on the Internet and other online media should be taken into account."

Another team member Arvind Gaur also tried to reason the low response. He said as the protest was decentralised this time, the turnout was low.

Of those who came, there were supporters from areas such as Bakhtawarpur in west Delhi, about 35-odd km from Ramlila Maidan. "It does not matter if Anna is not here. I have urged the children in my area to take active part so that the government is compelled to hear us," said Naresh Kumar, a Bakhtawarpur resident.

Manjeet Malhotra, general manager in a private firm, took time off from his working day. "I am here because I don't want the movement to fade out."

Around 4 pm, Hazare's announcement to end his fast was beamed live on the giant screen. Moments later, IAC team member Prashant Bhushan said, "Just because the fast is called off, it does not mean the agitation has ended. The movement forced the government to bring in and pass the Lokpal bill, however weak."

Many supporters were, however, confused at the way the agitation ended. Said Neha Dhingra, a B Com student from DU, tried to explain: "Maybe team Anna has not got the time to communicate it to the public. I am confident, Anna will continue to enjoy mass support."

As the crowd began to disperse, Bhushan announced, "The future strategy would be decided by the IAC core committee."