All India Congress Committee general secretary Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra arrived here on Wednesday on a private visit.
The siblings reached here around 1 p.m. by road from the Cochin airport to attend the wedding of Deepak, son of P.P. Madhavan, a member of the Prime Minister's Office and an aide to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Mr. Gandhi, in his trademark white kurta pyjama, and Ms. Vadra, in a parrot green sari with gold-dotted border, spent an hour at Kausthubham Auditorium on Shoranur Road, the venue for the wedding.
They chatted with newlyweds Deepak and Aswathy, and had traditional Kerala vegetarian lunch served on plantain leaves complete with ‘palada pradhaman' (rice flakes cooked in thick, sweetened milk). Mr. Gandhi asked for extra helpings of ‘pappadam' (deep-fried flatbread made with lentil flour) and ‘sarkkara upperi' (plantain soaked in jaggery and fried).
The police and Congress leaders reportedly had no clue about the visit of the celebrities.
Within a few minutes of the arrival of the siblings, a posse of policemen, including Superintendent of Police M.P. Dinesh and Deputy Superintendent of Police P. Radhakrishnan, landed on the spot and initiated security measures.
Youth Congress State general secretary John Daniel, district president Bejoy Babu, national coordinator Shaji J. Kodankandathu and District Congress Committee representatives Joseph Chalissery, M.R. Ramadas, Sunil Anthicaud and Jose Vellur too rushed to the venue. When some of them shouted slogans in his favour, Mr. Gandhi asked them to pipe down. ‘‘This is a private visit,'' he told them.
Thiruvambady Devaswom office-bearers M. Madhavankutty and C. Vijayan gifted photographs of the Thrissur Pooram to the siblings. ‘‘I have seen a similar photograph. It was presented to my mother when she came to Thrissur,'' Ms. Wadhera said.
A few photographers and onlookers sustained minor injuries when Special Protection Group (SPG) commandos pushed them away from the siblings.
They later returned to the airport by 3.30 p.m. and departed to Tiruchirapalli by 3.45 p.m. on the same flight, said the airport officials.