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Rahul rides into car row

Rahul Gandhi (right) on top of the police vehicle

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan. 14: The ride at the top isn’t always easy, Rahul Gandhi might be thinking today.

A day after the Congress vice-president braved security fears and climbed atop a moving police vehicle to greet supporters during the Yuva Kerala Yatra organised by the youth Congress, his party was scurrying to defend the action that the Opposition alleged was in violation of Motor Vehicles rules.

“Rahul Gandhi did not do it by design. It was only to make things easier for the hundreds who had gathered to meet him,’’ senior Congress leader and state home minister Ramesh Chennithala said.

He was replying to CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, who has taken potshots at the Gandhi scion. Vijayan said: “I have only sympathy for him. The man whom Congress is parading more or less as its prime ministerial candidate was behaving like a clown in Kerala…. How could an unlawful act be done without any obstruction here?”

Chennithala claimed Vijayan’s criticism stemmed from “heartburn” over the “enormous response” to Rahul’s programme.

“Rahul Gandhi’s visit had enthused hundreds of Youth Congress cadre and this must have caused heartburn to the CPM leadership,” the home minister said.

The BJP has demanded registration of a criminal case against Rahul. State party spokesperson V.V. Rajesh also taunted Vijayan, a politburo member, asking him if the CPM would not support the Congress, led by a man he had defined as a “clown”, after the Lok Sabha election.

The BJP has been accusing the Congress and the CPM of being hand in glove with each other in the state and sees Vijayan’s statement as mere posturing to confuse voters.

Rahul’s ride has also prompted questions on social media networks to celebrated transport commissioner Rishi Raj Singh.

The 1985 batch IPS officer who took charge in June 2013 has been credited with making the state’s roads safer. He cracked down on helmetless travel, enforced seatbelt rules, was tough on drunk driving and ensured that all buses in the state were fitted with speed governors. He, however, drew the ire of the Malayalam film industry after he insisted that films in which actors did not wear helmets while riding two-wheelers should be refused permission to be screened.

Singh could not be reached for comment today as he is recuperating after undergoing an angioplasty last month.