Cold plays spoiler to parallel fast in Delhi

While Anna Hazare is holding a fast in Mumbai for a strong Lokpal, a parallel fast is being held at Delhi’s Ramlila Grounds by Team Anna activists, including the father-son duo of Shanti and Prashant Bhushan.

New Delhi: Team Anna`s protest here against a "weak" Lokpal Bill Tuesday elicited a lukewarm response with supporters blaming the winter chill and absence of Anna Hazare for the low turnout at Ramlila Maidan.

It was a delayed start for the protest to express solidarity with Hazare`s fast in Mumbai as mercury remained at below normal level and a fog cover hung over the city.

The protest relay fast was scheduled to start at 10 AM but it started only 90 minutes later as the crowd was not as huge as witnessed during the earlier agitation when Hazare was
at the centre stage.

The leader of the protest Shanti Bhushan himself came to the podium at 10:30 AM though another Team Anna member and his son Prashant Bhushan was at the venue before explaining to
media persons about the protest and the delayed start.

The senior Bhushan sat alone at the dais as music was played for almost an hour but was joined by Prashant and others later.

Hazare was supposed to sit on a fast here but the venue was changed taking into consideration the weather in the capital. The activist is staging a three-day fast in Mumbai.

Though initially the numbers of protesters were low, the pace slowly picked up as the day progressed.

Prashant blamed the chilly and foggy weather for the low turnout in the morning. "I am sure people will come here as well. It is a cold day, foggy day today. It will take sometime
for people to turn up. They will come, don`t worry," he said. Activist Gopal Rai said winter and probably the absence of Hazare may be the reason for the low turnout but expressed hope that more people will come.

"It is true that the crowd this time is less compared to earlier occasions. But it has nothing to do with people being disillusioned with the movement or anything of that sort. "It is only because of the winter and probably because Hazare whom people see as the main crusader against corruption has shifted his protest to Mumbai for now. But we are hoping more people will join us," Rai said.

Explaining the need for protest, Prashant said the Bill in its present form is unacceptable. Protest will continue as well as jail bharo agitation, he added.

"Government thinks it can do what it wants and not take people`s view into consideration. How can it call itself a participatory democracy then?" he said.

Bhushan said the question was about the future of country`s participatory democracy.

"The Bill requires amendments. The main aim of the protest is to spread awareness about the ineffectiveness of the bill," he said, adding the government has presented a "distorted" image of democracy.

"The present form of the bill promotes corruption and not curb it," he added.


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