Photographs: Sahil Salvi
With Bal Thackeray issuing a diktat to his party cadres to greet the "Italian Prince" with black flags to mark the party's protest against his "Mumbai for all" remarks, the defiant Congress leader cocked a snook at the Sena supremo when he jettisoned plans to go to a slum in Ghatkopar by a waiting helicopter for his second and final engagement in the city.
Unfazed by the Sena threat and in a gesture loaded with symbolism, Rahul, who was on his way from suburban Vile Parle to Ghatkopar after addressing college students abruptly disembarked from his motorcade outside Andheri railway station of Western Railway line and got in a Dadar-bound local train.
Virar-Dadar second class train ride
There were reports that Rahul even went to an ATM. He travelled on the Virar-Dadar fast train in a second-class compartment along with the general public much to their delight but sending security personnel in a tizzy.
At the Andheri railway station, Gandhi humbly stood in the queue accompanied by a couple of his bodyguards. When the people recognized him they urged him to break the queue and get a ticket, however Rahul declined their offers. He continued to decline people's requests to go directly to the ticket window till one gentleman pointed out that since he would be buying a first class ticket there is no need for him to stand in the queue. After this,Rahul went to the ticket window and got his tickets, presumably for the first class.
He got off 15 minutes later around 1.15 pm at Dadar.
At Dadar railway station, Rahul crossed a bridge to come to the central line from where he took a train to Ghatkopar. He got into a first class coach of the Kalyan-bound to go to Ghatkopar, which is four stations away, a railway official said.
Rahul also signed autographs for starry-eyed passengers who gushed at seeing him in their company.
An unscheduled train journey
Rahul's unscheduled train journey sent the Railway Police into a tizzy and the personnel were on its toes especially after recent intelligence information of terror threat to suburban railway.
Government Railway Police (GRP) last week had received specific inputs about possible terror attacks on February 2 at three Central Railway stations -- CST, Dadar and Kurla -- following which thorough searches were conducted.
Since then, railway police were on its toes and Rahul Gandhi's unscheduled train journey has put the entire railway police force on alert, said a senior GRP official, who did not wish to be named.
Deputy Police Commissioner (GRP), Kaiser Khalid, admitted that it was not on the list of Rahul's schedule to travel on suburban train but appropriate security measures were taken soon after they learnt about his plan.
Rahul, who was on his way from suburban Vile Parle to Ghatkopar, disembarked from his motorcade outside Andheri railway station of Western Railway line and got in Dadar-bound local train.
He, then, alighted at Dadar railway station from where he boarded Ghatkopar bound train, Khalid added.