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Saturday, February 06, 2010 11:14:44 AM, IANS

In Mumbai, Rahul Gandhi pushed Shiv Sena off track

Rahul Gandhi in Mumbai, stops at ATM, travels by local train: Amidst violence and protests by Shiv Sena activists over his Mumbai visit, a calm and composed Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi stopped at an ATM in Santa Cruz and travelled by local train. ....Read Full

Mumbai: Mumbai commuters were overjoyed with Rahul Gandhi’s impromptu decision to travel by local train on his visit to the city on Friday.

After withdrawing money from an ATM and queuing up with the ‘aam janata’ to buy a ticket, the Gandhi scion went up the foot overbridge to catch the train.


In the train, initially Rahul Gandhi stood in the second class compartment of the Virar-Dadar fast train, surrounded by his security personnel and senior police officials.


In both the trains, initially the commuters were taken aback to see that it was indeed Rahul Gandhi sharing their compartment. They offered him a seat and he took the second seat. The uncomfortable third seat beside him and the fourth (normally congested in Mumbai suburban train travel), nobody dared to occupy…


From Dadar, Rahul had caught a Kalyan-bound slow train and got off at Ghtkopar. Many commuters rushed to speak with him, take his autograph, one offered him a red flower, others offered tidbits of advice but all loved him…


College students get Rahul ‘exclusive’

Bhaidas Auditorium where even film stars can be seen queuing up to buy tickets, is better known as a hub for Gujarati and Hindi theatre, musical programmes and other functions.


Today, there was more drama outside the auditorium than inside where around 1,100 select students from 50 Mumbai colleges had an ‘exclusive session’ with Rahul Gandhi.


“The students were selected, and around 20 were sent by Rizvi, MMK, RD National, Sathe, Mahila Sangh, St. Andrews, Narsee Monjee, Mithibai, NMIMS, Chetana and many other colleges for an exclusive session with Rahul Gandhi,” said an excited Krishna Hegde, MLA from Vile Parle constituency, who coordinated the event.


Many of the students later came out, star-struck by Rahul Gandhi who said that whenever he came to Mumbai, he felt “very inspired”.


Courageous Commuter

Rahul Gandhi not only showed that he can handle the antics of the Shiv Sena but also the rigors of Mumbai suburban train travel which needs you to be rough-and-tough.


He becomes the first ever leader of his stature to have travelled in Mumbai’s humble and much-maligned suburban trains, though at an off-peak hour when the rush is almost one-third less.


Prior to him, Lord Mayor of London Ken Livingstone had travelled in a Bandra-Churchgate suburban train “to get a feel of Mumbai”.


Besides, former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and former railway minister Lalu Prasad have travelled short distances on the Western Railway (WR) section.


Former MP Govinda and former union minister Ram Naik have used the WR network at various times for election campaign. Govinda succeeded once but Naik failed on two occasions.


Mumbai sings paens to Rahul

Upon hearing of Rahul Gandhi’s sudden trip to Mumbai, many tense parents had told their college-going children and relatives going to workplaces to watch out for any trouble.


For, the Shiv Sena was raging to create trouble all over the city to tarnish the trip of the Congress general secretary.


Four hours later, Mumbai was relaxed and singing paeans in honour of the Gandhi scion.


“See, I am reminded of my history lessons. Mahatma Gandhi traveled in a train in South Africa and later threw out the British from India.

Over a century later, Rahul Gandhi repeated the feat - and the Shiv Sena has nowhere to hide,” commented Manoj Nair, a marketing consultant from the suburbs.



Sycophancy will never cease, at least in the Congress.


When Rahul Gandhi arrived this afternoon in Ghatkopar, weary after a double-train ride, he went straight to the huge statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar in the Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar slum.


Amid the crowd of leaders and security personnel, with the mediapersons and thousands of onlookers kept at a considerable distance away, Rahul Gandhi removed his slippers and bent to keep them aside.


At this, Maharashtira Minister of State for Home promptly took the slippers from Rahul’s hand and obliged him by keeping them in a corner. Rahul Gandhi was seen smiling, perhaps a bit embarrassed.


How, when and where Rahul Gandhi ‘conquered’ Mumbai

Friday: 10.50 a.m: Rahul Gandhi flew in from New Delhi to the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport and boarded a waiting chopper.


11.05 a.m.: He landed at Juhu Airport to be received by Priya Dutt (Mumbai North-Central MP) and Krishna Hegde (Vile Parle MLA).

11.15 : Entered the Bhaidas Auditorium to interact with nearly 1,100 students/youth.


12.15 p.m.: Left the auditorium, and shortly thereafter, zoomed off to Andheri station.


12.50 p.m.: Withdrew Rs.5,000 cash from a nearby ATM and stood in a queue to buy a ticket for Andheri-Ghatkopar.


13.05 p.m.: Boarded the IInd class compartment of a Virar-Dadar fast train.


13.17 : Landed at Dadar, climbed up the foot overbridge to cross from Western Railway to Central Railway and took a Kalyan-bound slow train at 13.26 p.m.


13.40 : Landed at Ghatkopar and drove off to Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar slums.


14.35 : Left Ghatkopar for Mumbai Airport by road to fly down to Puducherry.








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