Celebrity support for Anna Hazare swelled on Friday, with Bollywood stars dropping in at Azad Maidan to pledge themselves to the movement.
Actors Dia Mirza, Shabana Azmi, Pooja Bhatt and Urmila Matondkar visited Azad Maidan in the evening and demonstrated their support for the 48 people who were fasting and the hundreds who had gathered, by shouting slogans with the crowd.
“People should stand up for this cause the way we cheered during the World Cup,” said Matondkar.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) began on Friday, but that did not seem to have dented support for Hazare’s hunger strike. “Don’t let the IPL divert you,” said Mirza. “Even when you go for the matches, hold up anti-corruption banners.”
Pooja Bhatt made a flying visit to Azad Maidan and also referred to cricket, asking people to support Hazare with the same zest. “Where is the rest of Mumbai?” said Bhatt, amid applause. “How come they only come out when there is a match in town?”
Azmi, a former Rajya Sabha member, said it was heartening to see the masses coming out against corruption spontaneously.
Amid hundreds of city folk at the maidan, many of whom were wearing white Gandhi caps embossed with the slogan ‘I am Anna Hazare’, was ad man and theatre personality Bharat Dabholkar. “To eradicate corruption, people needed a focal point which Hazare provided,” he said. “We are not asking for removal of this government, but a change of the system.”