Ranjit Kumar, an ice-cream vendor at Jantar Mantar, considers Anna Hazare his lucky mascot. Reason: Hazare's five-day fast went a long way in increasing his sales. "I came here so that I can have higher sales," said Kumar, who came to Jantar Mantar from Paharganj when he heard of the veteran Gandhian's fast.
Although he knew the protest was against corruption, he does not have any second thoughts about bribing a policeman if
it was the only way to earn his living.
"I have to pay Rs400-500 every month to policemen for letting me put my ice-cream trolley in Paharganj, near the railway station," he said.
When asked if he would approach the Lokpal (ombudsman) once it is formed, his answer was a quick no.
"If I go to complain, the officials will come to know and I will lose whatever I earn. Even the action (by the Lokpal) will take a year or so. Till then, I can't go hungry," he said.
For Kumar and many other vendors like him who put up their stalls near Jantar Mantar and India Gate-the two epicentres of the protest-earning a livelihood was a bigger problem.
Rahmatulla, who sells snacks at India Gate, in fact was surprised when he heard the word Lokpal. When he came to know about the proposed anti-graft bill, he said: "How can I complain about anyone? I have to work everyday and if I go to complain, I will lose a day's earnings."
But auto driver Raju Sharma was clued in about the agitation. "I hope corrupt officers and politicians are punished soon," he said.
Then there was the 12-year-old Raju who did not even know what the word corruption meant. He works in a juice shop hardly a kilometre from Jantar Mantar.
For shop-owner Rawat too, corruption wasn't that big an issue. "Our relations with people are such that we never face any problem," he said.