Crowds catch the chill, low turnout at protest venues
In bleak December, Anna Hazare's 'August kranti' appears to be a thing of the past. A chill seems to have seeped into the country's ardour for the latest fast of the social activist.delhi Updated: Dec 28, 2011 01:02 IST
In bleak December, Anna Hazare's 'August kranti' appears to be a thing of the past. A chill seems to have seeped into the country's ardour for the latest fast of the social activist.
From Mumbai to Kolkata to Jammu to Bhopal, Day One of Hazare's three-day agitation saw only token support, which the activists of India Against Corruption (IAC) were hard put to explain. From the weather to state governments and the India-Australia cricket match, everything was blamed.
Delhi's Ramlila Maidan, where a crowd of nearly 40,000 a day came during Hazare's 11-day fast in August, saw around 500 people turn up on Tuesday morning.
Leader of the protest Shanti Bhushan said, "It is a cold, foggy day. It will take some time for people to turn up." But around mid-day, the crowd swelled to a mere 2,000, and dwindled to a few hundreds in the evening.
Punjab's main cities -Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala and Bathinda - witnessed symbolic protests. In Jalandhar, around 20 activists of IAC began a three-day relay hunger strike.
The question of 'indefinite fast vs relay fast' split the activists in Lucknow.
The members of IAC wanted a relay hunger strike. They also demanded an undertaking from participants that they would not participate in the coming assembly elections.
RK Agrawal, city coordinator of the IAC, said, "People in Delhi are also on a relay fast. What is wrong with that? And it gets cold during the nights."
The suggestions did not go down well with many, who decided to launch a separate stir.
Jhulelal park, the hub of protests in Lucknow, finally saw 10 people go on a relay fast while 10 others started their indefinite fast.
The 'protest' was attended mostly by IAC activists, though around noon, some students from nearby colleges made an appearance.
The muted support to the campaign in Jaipur pushed the IAC to blame the state government and the India-Australia test match.
"We requested permission for rallies at Statue Circle and Udyog Maidan. The government denied permission and imposed Section 144," said one of the IAC members.
Kolkata, perhaps, put up the worst show, with hardly 80 people turning up at the protest venue despite repeated invitations from blaring loudspeakers.
(Inputs from Chandigarh, Lucknow, Bhopal, Jaipur, Kolkata)