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Thursday, 18 August 2011

Anna Hazare's campaign fails to grip Tamil Nadu

Anna Hazare with spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at Tihar Jail.

There were more vehicles than participants at the venue! That there is disconnect between the masses and Anna Hazare's spirited campaign was very much evident. Yet, his supporters are not disheartened at the poor turnout as they continue to enjoy the patronage of the media.

The dwindling number of supporters was indicative of the fact that Anna has little or no resonance in the state. On day 3, the protest appears to have lost steam and there were around 300 people remaining at the venue by late evening while over 1000 paid a visit to express their solidarity. Even the organisers were worried at the prospect of the movement fizzling out.

Former Chief Election Commissioner T S Krishnamurthy was among those who came to pledge their support.

From US-based independent film maker Chandra Mohan to local auto driver Kamaraj (40) have joined the indefinite fast.

Well, the visitors were not the usual ones who throng at political rallies or processions but those belonging to the middle and upper middle classes. A sizable section of them were non-Tamils, making the divide very much visible. The working class appears to have turned its back on Anna and his campaign.

This is surprising since the 2G scam was an important poll plank in the assembly polls. Then at least Anna's campaign had an impact on the city youth driving them to the polling booths. Interestingly, many of them had opted for 49-O, under which one need not vote for anyone as a mode of protest and still be counted as having exercised the franchise. That spontaneity and enthusiasm appears to have evaporated.

"We don't know whether this is due to the influence of the Anti-Hindi movement of the past," admitted some of the participants.

Reinforcing the class and caste divide was the response. While IIT students held a candle light vigil, those of the prestigious Anna University in the vicinity or other educational institutions remained indifferent. And this was on predictable lines. None from Loyola College, MCC or the politically volatile Pachayapa's College were seen at the venue.

The organisers, however, put up a brave face saying that support is pouring in. "The fasters including a female one range from 18 to 81 years. There is a steady flow of visitors. A group of housewives from the neighbourhood showed up on Thursday. Many have come with their family with much enthusiasm," says Bhavna Upadyaya, a coordinator of india Against Corruption.

A group of about IT professionals took out a bike rally with 33 vehicles to express solidarity with those on fast.

Rest of Tamil Nadu did not witness any groundswell for Anna as the protest has failed to capture public imagination.

The last time the city and the state witnessed a massive support for a fast was when Rajnikant undertook a fast to press for resolving the Cauvery dispute.


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