On an overcast Sunday afternoon, I headed to Freedom Park to cover the anti corruption fast and protest over midnight raid by the UPA Government at Ramlila Grounds in Delhi. As I parked my bike, the first thing in noticed was not the sea of people who had turned up for the protest but the several peanuts, ice cream and bhel puri vendors that had gathered that had set shop there to make a quick buck. If it weren’t for slogans of “Jai Bharath Mata Ki” emanating from inside the shamiyana, I would think I was at the wrong place.
While gorging on orange ice candies and spicy bhel puri, people listened to seers talking about why Baba Ramdev’s fast was important. I wonder what the people on stage, who had been fasting since the day before or some since that morning would have felt on seeing their fellow countrymen munching away while they fasted for a cause. Would they feel betrayed, furious at their compatriots’ insensitivity or would they simply be tempted to abandon their fast and make a dash towards the snack vendors? The sight of a gentleman scurrying to the other end of the makeshift tent added with a pack of peanuts in hand, added some comic relief to the sombre mood inside..
The whole scene reminded me of a scene from the Hindi movie, Peepli Live, where a mela is erected overnight near Natha’s home, where media persons, politicians and other villagers have gathered to watch the spectacle of him committing suicide.
However, I feel the people fasting shouldn’t feel too bad. After all they are helping someone earn a living rightfully. I am sure the snack vendors hope for more such fasts, not particularly because they are against corruption but because they can earn money to fill their bellies.