For those who doubted Anna Hazare’s credibility, his movement for a strong Lokpal Bill and the massive support he is getting, his procession from Tihar Jail to Ramlila Maidan via Rajghat was a befitting reply – given not by Anna or his “motivated team”, but by the people of this democracy.
A sea of humanity had converged at the gate of Tihar Jail in the morning (of August 19). With chants of slogans like ‘Vande Mataram’ to those ridiculing the government and top Congress leadership, the scene appeared to be a festival of democracy – some were singing songs and others were dancing, in anticipation of a man who has come to be seen as the second Mahatma.
As soon as Anna appeared at the gate, the air around the jail became pure with thousands of souls chanting ‘Jai Hind’ and ‘Vande Mataram’. Anna, in his message to the crowd, reiterated: the fight was against corruption and that the youth had the power to bring the change.
And it seemed the Gandhian and his supporters had the blessings of rain gods. As soon as Anna started moving in an open-top mini-truck, it started pouring like anything. However, instead of running for cover every man and woman standing there – from school kids to college students to house wives – accepted the blessings and started following, probably, the man who will bring the change.
It was a procession like never seen before, at least in the last few decades. People were dancing on the road, on rooftops of cars, in tractor-trolleys, holding the national flag and pictures of Anna Hazare, beating drums and singing patriotic songs. I can’t say if everyone had Lokpal Bill on their mind; but the battle for change was something that had brought everyone together.
Children had skipped their school, teenagers had bunked their college, office-goers had halted even if for a moment, shopkeepers had stopped selling, workers from factories in the area had come out on the roads – all to witness the battle for change... not who rules the country but how they rule it. Even people sitting in buses passing by were dancing and screaming Vande Mataram.
Even if one wasn’t part of the procession he/she made it a point to lend support by repeating the slogans or by waving hands. I couldn’t find even one policeman who didn’t smile at the supporters, while helping them with the way. Some of them even went to the extent of saluting the supporters.
Travelling in a tractor-trolley full of dancing supporters, I was already beginning to witness the change – if not in hearts, but surely on faces.
While Anna sped off from Mayapuri Chowk along with his close aides, first to Rajghat and then to Ramlila Maidan – the venue of his fast – I, travelling in a slow-moving tractor-trolley, had the time to ‘feel’ the emotions. Whether it was a passenger waiting at the bus stop or a truck driver who had stopped on the roadside, the hope in their eyes was clearly visible – the hope of a better India where one doesn’t have to pay bribes everywhere – from getting the birth certificate to the final resting place at the crematorium, from government offices to police, from getting a passport to applying for a water connection...
The second round of Anna’s battle has begun at Ramlila Maidan. But it remains to be seen who will win this time – Ram, as always, or Ravan. Do I need to say who Ravan is...?
First Published: 8/21/2011 6:47:32 PM