A day after calling off his three-day fast at Mumbai and cancelling the 'jail bharo' and dharnas outside the houses of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, activist Anna Hazare returned to his village Ralegan Siddhi on Thursday afternoon.
The homecoming had none of the fanfare and grand welcome one witnessed in August when he returned after the 12-day fast in Delhi. A visibly low Hazare announced an eight-day long isolation, citing medical reasons. Meanwhile, in Delhi, his core team member Prashant Bhushan announced the core committee would next meet on January 2 and 3 at Ralegan Siddhi to chalk out the future course of action.
Asked about Hazare's decision to end his fast and the u-turn on the jail bharo agitation, Bhushan said, "The fast was called off merely on health grounds and the jail bharo has only been postponed."
On poor crowd response, Bhushan said it could have been due to a combination of factors. "Lack of preparation, change of city and timing of the fast could have been the factors, but we will discuss the issue."
He, however, refused to accept that the popular support to their movement was on the decline. "I do not know on what basis you have reached that conclusion."
Other Team Anna members, who were not willing to speak on record, conceded that the Mumbai fast was decided in haste. "Maybe at this time of the year, people are in a different mood. We also feel there was a tremendous interest in watching the lokpal debate in Parliament."
There is also a feeling within the team that Mumbai was "an ambitious venue". "The government had definitely created hurdles by not granting permission at a centrally located venue, but the decision to go for a ground which had one lakh capacity, was an ambitious move," said a team member.