Anil Thakraney: The trick Anna missed

30 Dec,2011

By Anil Thakraney


So, Anna Hazare’s Mumbai campaign suffered a serious setback. Only a few thousand ‘fans’ landed up, though expectations were of lakhs of people joining in. In fact, I was so mortally petrified of the projected traffic chaos, I made sure I did not plan any travel in the city… I stayed hidden under my bed like a coward for the period of the planned agitation.


Quite clearly there are many reasons why the dharna flopped, and I won’t go into them out here, that’s for columnists in the mass media to worry about. But I must say this: For Mumbai, which is not a politically active city unlikeDelhi, Team Anna needed to think out of the box to get the crowds in. For one, they needed to hire a professional event management company, which would have organized entertainment and refreshments for the attendant junta. People are already fatigued of the Lokpal issue, and there have to be add-ons if Mumbaikars are tempted to give up their routine lives and spend three whole days at the MMRDA grounds. I am quite sure some event companies would have slashed their fees for the noble cause.


Two, and no I am NOT kidding about this, Team Anna ought to have done a promo tie-up with Bollywood, without making a song and dance of it. For example, Don 2 released around the time of Anna’s Mumbai chapter. Could they not have tied up with Farhan Akhtar and Shahrukh Khan? What’s the worst that would have happened? SRK asking people to watch his flick, that’s about it. He does that everywhere, anyways. But in return, his presence would not only have pulled massive crowds in, it would have got Parliament on the edge. And the media would have shown much more interest in the event, even the Page 3 journos would have landed up.


I am sure some of you might think I am trivializing a serious issue out here. Well,

I am not. Because it’s quite clear to me that poor old Anna Hazare does not have the money or the means or the charisma to send Mumbai into a tizzy. He needed help. He needed to be clever. Because after the Mumbai flop show, even the Anna loyalists are having second thoughts about a solid Lokpal bill. And many fans across the nation seem to be losing faith in him.


It would be a terrible loss for the country if Anna sahib were to fade away into oblivion. It’s time to think different.


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PS: Since I am always cribbing and carping about the Indian media, I have decided to be nice in my last post of the year. For the entire year 2011, news channels behaved liked hysterical cheerleaders for Anna Hazare, thereby throwing all professionalism out of their studios. But as the year closed, I noticed a sense of calm and fair play across the board. The debates were more balanced and nuanced. Even Arnab Goswami was unbiased!


Let’s hope we get to watch more of this in 2012. Happy New Year!


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