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Anti-corruption party in full swing at Ramlila Ground

Last updated on: June 4, 2011 23:08 IST

Anti-corruption party in full swing at Ramlila Ground

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Sahim Salim captures the mood at Ramlila Ground where Baba Ramdev launched his indefinite fast against corruption and black money on Saturday.  

Men dressed as Ravanas with heads depicting disgraced politicians like A Raja and Suresh Kalmadi, youngsters with images of Baba Ramdev painted on their faces and groups with nagadas and dhols chanting slogans against corruption flocked Ramlila Ground on Saturday as Baba Ramdev's self-proclaimed satygraha took off on Saturday.   

An estimated 20,000 people sweated it out patiently at Delhi's Ramlila Ground; the sprawling maidan, which is as big as eight large-sized swimming pools put together, was filled to capacity.

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Image: Baba Ramdev supporters play drums at the Ramlila Ground

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Ramdev, supporters paint the town saffron

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Saffron was the colour of the day. Men and women dressed in saffron robes, donning saffron turbans marched the lengths of the ground shouting slogans hailing Baba Ramdev.

And it came as no surprise as Baba's followers were joined by a number of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharaks in their uniforms. Devotional songs reverberated across the ground during breaks between speeches. And yes, there patriotic songs were sung as well.
  

Image: A tired Ramdev support sleeps under a truck on Saturday

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No law and order problems at Ramlila Ground

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The law and order situation at the ground was impeccable. Several volunteers were stationed at the entrance to guide protestors inside. Supporters were manually frisked and bags were scanned. There were separate entrances for men and women.

Once inside, there were boards with the names of several states displayed. People were instructed to go to the counters of their respective states and register.

Image: Sanners were placed at the ground to check bags carried by supporters

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Ramdev has the crowds in splits

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Baba Ramdev coordinated and ran the whole show from the stage. To the delight of his supporters, he picked up the microphone after every speech and thanked the speakers. And he laced his discourses with humour.

When people clapped before the end of his sentence, he would say, "Arrey abhi mat bajaiye taali, baat abhi baaki hain." And when they failed to applaud, he would go, "Arre, taali nahi bajaoge? Itni badi baat pe bhi?"

Yes, Ramdev's supporters got all they wanted and more.


Image: A street play being perfromed at the ground

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Don't harass the press: Ramdev tells volunteers

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It was his show and nobody can take that away from him. He paid attention to the assembled media in their enclosure. At one point, a senior journalist demanded that the coverage be stopped, as some of the volunteers were not letting media personnel carry water. The volunteers opined that since the Baba was fasting, the press should fast as well. Ramdev intervened immediately.

"Arrey Rahul (name changed)," he addressed a senior journalist by name, "What happened?"

When explained, Ramdev apologised. He even instructed the volunteers not to harass the press.

Image: A bicycle carrying anti-corruption messages is parked at the ground

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'Gandhiji's fight was easy, but Ramdev's isn't'

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At one point, one of the speakers on the dais, Devgi Nandan Thakur, passionately said that Baba Ramdev was ten steps ahead of Mahatma Gandhi. "Gandhiji's fight was easy, but Ramdev's is not," Thakur thundered on the microphone, to a nervous applause from the stage.

Soon after Thakur completed his speech, Ramdev asked for the microphone and told his supporters that the speaker had made an  'emotional' statement and it should not be taken verbatim. "Gandhiji is and will always remain an inspiration for the masses. I visited Rajghat on Friday and prayed to him to make this andolan a success," Ramdev said.


Image: A supporter of Baba Ramdev at the ground

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