No Ramlila rerun at Anna's token fast | delhi | Hindustan Times
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No Ramlila rerun at Anna's token fast

The stage was set and the cameras ready at Jantar Mantar for Anna Hazare's token fast to push for a stronger lokpal bill on Sunday. Rajat Arora reports. All in a day at Jantar Mantar

delhi Updated: Dec 12, 2011 01:37 IST
Rajat Arora

The stage was set and the cameras ready at Jantar Mantar for Anna Hazare's token fast to push for a stronger lokpal bill on Sunday.

After paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat, Anna's procession moved towards Jantar Mantar, where the volunteers of India Against Corruption (IAC) were waiting for their anti-corruption crusader to start a symbolic day-long protest.

As the crowd - consisting mostly of IAC volunteers - swelled, Kiran Bedi, in her enthusiastic voice started doing what she does best - engaging the crowd with her words.

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When Anna finally arrived at the venue, flags fluttered, loudspeakers bellowed and crowds cheered for their icon. The symbolic protest to pressure the government began with members of core team addressing the crowd.

There was, however, a marked difference. At the time of Anna's first fast in April, Jantar Mantar was packed with thousdands of people from all over.

Sunday's crowd was also nowhere near the sea of humanity that had thronged the Ramlila grounds.

"We can't draw a parallel between Anna's earlier fasts and this one. The electric energy of the crowd is missing. The other ones were more about the common man's participation. This one looks like one by the IAC, for the IAC and of the IAC," said a senior police officer, who has closely witnessed other Anna Hazare movements in Delhi.

The highlight of the day, an open debate by heavyweights such as Arun Jaitley, Brinda Karat and leaders of other parties, was started by Arvind Kejriwal at 1.15 pm with the crowd touching a 5,000 mark.

"Politicians openly debating the issue is a welcome step. We hope the Parliament will definitely pass a stronger lokpal bill now," said Kanika Aneja, a supporter of IAC.

The crowd started thinning much before Anna broke his fast at 5pm.

The day ended with Kiran Bedi asking supporters in her popular style to move out in a disciplined manner.

"We'll be on streets again if they don't pass a strong lokpal bill," said Rajeev Sharma, a government employee.