New Delhi: Team Anna`s protest here against
a "weak" Lokpal Bill today 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
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 number of protesters was 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.