Churchgate railway station here on Wednesday afternoon resembled a battleground. Scores of people were seen running helterskelter, pushing and pulling at each other. The metal detector at the station was uprooted. All these were to get a glimpse of Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal who travelled by train from Andheri to Churchgate.
As part of the party’s austerity claims, Delhi's the former Delhi Chief Minister decided to use public transport after he reached here by a flight in the morning. He first took an auto rickshaw from the Santa Cruz airport. A cavalcade of at least 40 rickshaws with the AAP supporters followed him. Chaos ensued at Andheri station from where Mr. Kejriwal and his party members boarded a Churchgate-bound train.
Several fellow commuters were impressed. “I had read in the papers that he was going to take the train. But I didn't think I'd be in the same compartment as him. This party should be given a chance,” said businessman Piyush Dedhia.
Mr. Kejriwal took a window seat in the second class compartment with party candidate Mayank Gandhi. The train was packed with AAP supporters and the media. But Mr. Kejriwal also drew crowds. Many stood on the seats to get a glimpse of him.
People waved at him from outside at the train went past the platform. The commute was reminiscent of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s train ride in Mumbai in 2010. At the time, Mr. Gandhi managed to interact with commuters since his schedule was kept away from the media.
Some saw Mr. Kejriwal’s move as a political gimmick. “If he really wanted to interact with the public, he wouldn’t have announced his plans to the media. Not one could speak to him because of the frenzy,” said a commuter, Sonali Joshi, an advertising professional. “Because of him we got delayed and stuck in the mess,” said an Priyal Shah, an advocate who got caught at Churchgate station.
But not everyone shared her opinion. “Inconvenience for a day can be tolerated if you want a better country,” said Vinod Gupta, a software engineer who skipped work to be on the same train.