IAC says response good, police think otherwise
Did Mumbai give Anna Hazare the cold shoulder? Day One of the much-hyped protest by Anna Hazare and his followers, to press for acceptance of their version of the lokpal bill, at the city's Bandra-Kurla Complex saw conflicting claims about the turnout.mumbai Updated: Dec 28, 2011 01:56 IST
Did Mumbai give Anna Hazare the cold shoulder? Day One of the much-hyped protest by Anna Hazare and his followers, to press for acceptance of their version of the lokpal bill, at the city's Bandra-Kurla Complex saw conflicting claims about the turnout.
Organisers of the three-day event, India Against Corruption, claimed that the response was as encouraging as at New Delhi's Ramlila Maidan in August. It claimed 30,000 supporters attended the event by 4.30 pm on Tuesday. The city police put the attendance at 4,000-4,500. Both figures excluded 2,500 police personnel and about 500 mediapersons.
Did the city, where more than half the voters do not show up for polling, chose to remain indifferent as usual to politically significant events. Or did the yearend holidays keep Anna supporters away?
Political commentator Surendra Jondhale blamed the poor turnout on Hazare and his team's weakening political credibility. "A working day is an insignificant reason but what really caused damage is that it [the protest] is ill-timed and politically not correct."
In the HT-Cfore survey published on Tuesday, 78% people said they would not go to the venue of Hazare's fast or come out on the streets to show their support.
Jondhale said Mumbai was a smart city and "most of its people do not have a strong connect with the protest that would inspire them to attend the fast, more so because the Bombay High Court too rapped the Team Anna for being so adamant and unreasonable."
Senior journalist Pratap Asbe said the city did not show the enthusiasm it did in August when Hazare staged a fast. "Marches were held in every nook and corner (of the city and suburbs) then. People displayed hoardings and billboards on their own. Now that is entirely missing despite Hazare being here."
Asbe attributed the lukewarm response to the negative opinions against Team Anna. "Despite several allegations, Team Anna did not introspect."
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said Hazare's protest failed because the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party did not have much strength in the state. "People are also fed up with Hazare's poor attempts at garnering publicity."
Recently, Hazare courted controversy when he made an insensitive remark after a youth attacked NCP boss Sharad Pawar. Pawar has a following in Maharashtra and many did not appreciate a senior politician being ridiculed in this manner. His remark that people who drink should be flogged also caused consternation about the methods of the self-professed Gandhian.
Many of his supporters too did not approve of his flip-flop on several issues, especially when he disowned city activists who were rapped by the Bombay high court.