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Anna skips cold Delhi, finds Mumbai colder

india Updated: Dec 28, 2011 01:45 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
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As Mumbaikars began preparations for year-end vacation, anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare began his three-day fast at Bandra-Kurla Complex - a posh business hub of Mumbai - demanding that the Parliament adopt his version of Lokpal.

The response to the protest, however, was lukewarm. The organisers claimed 30,000 volunteers participated on Day 1 but police put the figure at 4,000-4,500.

The show began at 9am at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial, where Hazare paid tribute before beginning the protest. Many gathered at the Juhu beach to see him, but just before Hazare left the government guesthouse, he was shown black flags by a group.

Flanked by team members Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal, Hazare then boarded a decorated truck, moving through a 12-km route to reach the protest venue at MMRDA grounds.

Given the visibly low turnout, Bedi appealed to people to come with friends the next day.

While Bedi and Kejriwal appealed to him to give up the protest in view of his health, Hazare ruled out any such withdrawal. " I will rather die for my country than a heart attack," he declared.

Later in the evening, there was uncertainty over the fast as Hazare's temperature shot up and his team met him to decide the next course of action.

But did Mumbai give a deliberate miss to Anna Hazare, or was it just normal for a city where half the voters do not show up for polling? The debate continued throughout the day at the venue and elsewhere.

In a recent HT-Cfore survey, 78% people had said they would not go to the venue of Hazare's fast or come out on the streets to show their support.

Political commentator Surendra Jondhale blamed the turnout on Hazare and his team's weakening political credibility.

"Most people do not feel inspired enough to attend," Jondhale said. "More so, because even the Bombay high court rapped the Team Anna for being adamant and unreasonable."

But forget attendance at the protest site, the city did not even show the enthusiasm it had in August when Hazare sat on fast in Delhi, said an observer. Marches were held in every nook and corner, and people put up posters.

Attributing the lukewarm response to the 'taint' on Team Anna, an observer said, "Despite several allegations, Team Anna did not introspect."