CHENNAI: Sweets were distributed by supporters of the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement here on Saturday evening near the Gandhi statue on the Marina, which was also the venue for a candlelight vigil the previous evening with about 2,000 people from different walks of life joining hands on their own volition.
But the same spot could not be turned into the venue for a one-day token fast, which was proposed to be held on April 5 to coincide with Anna Hazare’s launching his indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar to press for the Jan Lokpal bill.
K Venkatanarayanan, one of the three Chennai conveners of IAC, who wrote to the Commissioner of Police on March 14 after coming to know about the proposed fast in New Delhi, said even the High Court did not allow them to hold the fast.
As they were left with no place to hold their peaceful protest, Anna’s thambis — members of the core group of the movement in Chennai — went around scouting for one when they had a few voluntary offers.
One was a private premises in suburban Uthandi. But they chose the Thakkar Bapa Vidyalaya in T Nagar in the heart of the city in view of its Gandhian association — the foundation stone for the institution was laid by Mahatma Gandhi years ago — following an invitation from its head Annamalai. Then of course, the Chennai group did not have the wherewithal to mobilise the crowds for the protest.
For, they are still a disorganised group of volunteers who have taken the plunge out of self interest. Venkatnarayanan, 44, works for as a project manager for a multinational automobile company. The two other conveners in Chennai also have their respective vocations — Venkata Prasad works for a company and Kris Dev is an activist.
However, they spread the message about the protest through e-mails and SMS and a crowd of about 1,000 turned up on April 6. Venkatanarayanan said that though he had tied up with a couple of public service NGOs after he enrolled himself with the movement in January not much support from other civil society movements in Chennai could be garnered as they were all busy with election related work — like helping the Election Commission in preventing malpractices like money distribution to voters.
Venkatnarayanan, who joined in after he came to know about it through the website of IAC, said the movement would be given a new impetus by involving all those who took part in the candlelight vigil and the prayers. “We have collected the phone numbers and e-mail ids of people. We will be in touch with them,” he said and added: “we will reach out to more people.”