Gives up executive class comfort he is entitled to as MP
LUDHIANA: A day after his mother Sonia Gandhi flew to Mumbai by economy class, All India Congress Committee general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday travelled in the Shatabdi Express to Ludhiana. He was accompanied by a posse of Special Protection Group personnel.
He boarded the train from the New Delhi Railway Station to the northern industrial city to participate in a party function.
Mr. Gandhi’s move of giving up the executive class comfort he is entitled to as a Member of Parliament was generally cheered by some co-passengers. He travelled by a chair car.
He ate a simple vegetarian breakfast that was also served to his co-passengers, and he was said to have refused special cutlery offered to him.
Mr. Gandhi refused to accept flowers presented to him at the station, saying it was the privilege of the executive class passengers, and demanded he be served water in a plastic cup like other passengers.
The passengers were elated to know that the young leader was travelling with them. “It is good that Rahul Gandhi is travelling with common people. He will get to see our problems first hand,” a passenger said.
A passenger said: “I am feeling great after hearing that I will travel with Mr. Gandhi.”
Most passengers said they did not encounter any security problem owing to Mr. Gandhi’s presence. They were, however, asked by security personnel of their seat numbers before they got into the coach. Only a couple of passengers complained of security hassles.
The booking for Mr. Gandhi was done at short notice. He was originally waitlisted and his ticket was later confirmed from the Headquarters Quota.
The Amritsar-New Delhi Shatabdi, in which Mr. Gandhi returned from Ludhiana, was stoned on Tuesday night near Panipat, but he was not in the three compartments that were hit.
There were no immediate reports of any injury to passengers, and SPG sources said there was no threat to Mr. Gandhi in the incident.
A few window panes of the three coaches — C1, C2 and C4 — were broken when some children stoned the train as it approached a rail crossing near Ghokrunda station in Panipat district in Haryana, according to a Northern Railway spokesman.
Mr. Gandhi was in the C-3 coach, the spokesman added. — PTI