Hours before starting his renewed fast, anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare, 73, visited Mahatma Gandhi's tomb at Rajghat on Sunday evening, taking the Delhi police unawares.
Hazare made the trip while his supporters were preparing for his appeal to the nation at the Constitution Club, about 4 km away.
"We attended the Independence Day programme at the Red Fort in the morning and thought we should visit the Mahatma's samadhi too. All we wanted was a small stroll through the lawns before driving back home but, in fact, almost bumped into Annaji seconds after we entered," said Rajesh Meena, 35, a businessman from Sonepat.
Meena was among a small crowd, which swelled as television crews scrambled in to beam live telecasts of Hazare sitting down to a "maun prarthana" (silent prayer), seeking inner strength before Tuesday's fast.
While there were 75-100 people at Rajghat around 4:30pm when Hazare, with just three to four of his aides, strolled inside, almost a thousand visitors including author Chetan Bhagat gathered before Anna exited to address the press conference at 6:40pm.
"We are all with him in his fight against corruption; if they arrest him, we will teach this government a lesson that the freedom fighters of yore taught the British," said Vijay Arora, 23, a resident of Chandni Chowk.
Anna was escorted away by his aides as volunteers requested visitors to sit down, and chanted 'Raghupati Ragahav Raja Ram', a religious song popularised by Mahatma Gandhi.