After two fasts, a Brand Anna emerges

After two fasts, a Brand Anna emerges

Though Anna Hazare’s close associate Prashant Bhushan said “personification of the movement is best avoided”, building Brand Anna is apparently working well for the anti-corruption protesters. “Personification of the anti-corruption movement is best avoided,” Prashant Bhushan said.

However, a comparison of Anna’s fast at Jantar Mantar in April this year, demanding the Lokpal Bill, and the current one against the government’s Lokpal Bill shows the difference.

In the April 6-9 fast, supporters like Swami Agnivesh, Baba Ramdev and other Anna Team members Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejrival and Kiran Bedi were seen sharing the dais at Jantar Mantar along with Hazare. This time, at Ramlila Maidan a conscious effort has been made by the campaigners to ensure that only Hazare occupies the podium and gets maximum focus of the TV crews.

Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Bedi come on stage to address a press conference once in a while, but at a level lower than where Hazare is sitting on fast.

As images of a fasting campaigner are beamed across the world to millions of homes, Brand Anna is catching on. Another significant difference between the two fasts is that while earlier a poster of Bharat Mata (Mother India) formed the backdrop of the stage, inviting criticism from the Leftists that the protest had “rightist” leanings, this time Team Anna has put a giant portrait of Mahatma Gandhi as the background, to give a more “secular” face to the campaign and perhaps give credence to Hazare’s image as a “modern day Gandhi”.

In fact, so conscious were the planners of building Brand Anna that they did not allow Baba Ramdev to join the protest this time.

According to senior journalist Bhaskar Roy, the organisers behind Hazare's protest understand the market dynamics and the role of media today. “Hence the need to build Brand Anna,” Roy said.

Agreeing that they did not expect this kind of support, Bhushan said, “People feel Anna is the legitimate torchbearer of the movement.”

No wonder Brand Anna has been able to attract a wide range of supporters all waving flags and banners carrying Anna's pictures and even sporting Gandhi caps proclaiming “I am Anna.”

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