The stage was set since Thursday night, and when the moment arrived, the welcome that Anna Hazare received was big enough to give a complex to any celebrity, be it a politician, movie star or cricketer.
Outside Tihar jail, the crowd started trickling in around 7am. It was at 9am, when music and slogans were just warming up the scene, that Kiran Bedi arrived and announced that Hazare would come out at 11am.
By 10.45am, the crowds became restless as they sensed a flurry of activity among the on-duty cops and volunteers — signs that the wait was about to be over. By then the sky had turned dark gray and was threatening to pour, but nobody cared.
“Rain is not a problem. The main problem is to find a place to stand,” said Mohit Yadav, a student from Gurgaon.
At 11.40am, running 40 minutes late, clad in white and sporting the signature Nehru cap, Hazare emerged, and the cheer reacher a deafening crescendo.
Hands folded in namaskar, Hazare, helped by activists Manish Sisodia and others, mounted a wobbly, makeshift podium in the truck.
Just then the skies opened up and volunteers rushed to protect their leader. As the procession moved on, people showered petals from Lajwanti flyover. An hour-and-a-half later, amid rain, waterlogged roads and jammed traffic, it was all over.
Under the Mayapuri flyover, Hazare finally bid goodbye to the crowd before heading to Rajghat in a car to begin yet another round of his fight against corruption.