The vibrancy of the August gathering was missing this time. The crowd at the Ramlila Maidan was thinner and the buzz gone. Also, missing from the venue were the youth, on whom Anna Hazare had pinned his hopes for bringing in the change.
The septuagenarian activist began his three-day fast in protest against the government's 'weak' lokpal bill in Mumbai. Back in Ramlila Maidan — which had pulled in massive crowds for 10 continuous days in August — barely 200 supporters could be seen in the Ramlila Ground a little after 10am when noted lawyer duo and IAC core team members Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan took the stage.
A number of supporters were seen glued to the huge LCD screen which was beaming images of Hazare's rally and dharna in Mumbai along with Lok Sabha proceedings where the MPs were debating the pros and cons of the lokpal bill introduced by the government.
It was only post 2pm that people started showing up.
By 3pm, the numbers had swollen to about 1,000. "It is very cold. Plus, Annaji is not here. So there is no incentive for people to come here in large numbers," said Rajesh Kumar, a businessperson from Janakpuri.
Despite some sloganeering, singing of patriotic songs and even flag-waving by enthusiastic few, the crowd was just not boisterous. There was a temporary buzz when it was announced that Kiran Bedi would be joining the supporters at Ramlila Maidan.
Throughout the day, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Gopal Rai, Sunita Godara and Naveen Jaihind continued to sit through their fast. Several speakers came one after another to address the gathering. A musical trio kept the crowds engaged from time to time with patriotic songs and lokpal anthem.
The proceedings were to end at 6pm, but several people started to leave after 5pm. After 7pm, barely a few people were left at the ground.