Mumbai : Discarding security considerations as well as a waiting helicopter, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hopped into a local train Friday to travel from Andheri to Dadar, much to the delight of his co-passengers in the second class compartment.
Maximising the massive public response to his sudden Mumbai trip in the wake of Shiv Sena threats to “keep off Maharashtra”, the Congress general secretary made a last minute change in his itinerary to travel from Vile Parle in western suburbs to his second engagement at Ghatkopar in the eastern suburbs.
From Bhaidas Auditorium at Juhu (in Vile Parle), Rahul Gandhi’s motorcade zoomed towards the Andheri railway station, about two kilometres away, taking most people by surprise. As per the original plans, he was scheduled to fly in a helicopter.
En route, he was seen standing on the footboard of his SUV and waving to the people lined going about their routine and even shaking hands with some.
Within minutes, he reached Andheri to board a Western Railway (WR) suburban train to Dadar station in the southern direction. He travelled on the Virar-Dadar fast train in a second class compartment along with the general public, and got off 15 minutes later around 1.15 p.m. at Dadar.
He was also scheduled to catch a suburban Central Railway (CR) local train to reach Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar.
All the three stations – Andheri, Dadar and Ghatkopar – are among the most congested railway stations in the Mumbai suburban network. It is usually a nightmare even for the most diehard Mumbaikars to alight or board from trains at these stations “conquered” by Rahul Gandhi, who is in Mumbai for a short four-hour visit after which he leaves for Pondicherry.
Officials of both the WR and CR claimed ignorance of the Congress leader’s travel plans and said they were not informed about it by his security personnel.