Arvind Kejriwal travels in an auto rickshaw in Mumbai on Wednesday. (Fotocorp)
Mumbai, March 12: Arvind Kejriwal’s attempts to do a Rahul Gandhi and travel in Mumbai’s suburban trains today drew not just angry responses from the people but also legal action for violation of traffic rules and damage to public property.
Fliers at Mumbai airport were in for a surprise this morning when thousands of Aam Aadmi Party volunteers in white caps thronged Terminal 2 to welcome Kejriwal and held them up.
AAP activists then ferried Kejriwal in a convoy of autos and motorbikes to Andheri railway station. While the autos carried more than three passengers each, the motorbike riders did not wear helmets. Traffic police slapped fines of Rs 500 on three auto drivers for violating the Motor Vehicles Act.
Morning office-goers at the busy Andheri station were also taken aback at the sight of a sea of white-capped volunteers escorting Kejriwal into a second class train compartment, accompanied by the police and large media contingents.
The Churchgate terminus too witnessed jostling crowds. Hundreds of commuters wanting to catch a glimpse of Kejriwal followed him out of the station, leading to the collapse of some metal detectors.
Unlike Rahul, who surprised commuters by travelling with a handful of SPG guards during non-peak hours, Kejriwal’s show annoyed several people. College student Nadia Sheikh said she and her friend were caught in the crowd. “We almost fell as it was a stampede-like situation.”
Another commuter, Arvind Narvekar, said Kejriwal was trying a publicity stunt. “Unseasonal rain and hailstorms have damaged standing crops and farmers are in severe distress. If he had tried to help them, it would have been more meaningful. All this train travel is just a show, a gimmick. Does it really solve our problems?” he asked.
Another commuter, Milind Shinde, said: “There could have been a serious incident like a stampede. Road shows always inconvenience people. Kejriwal should have been wiser than other politicians.”
State home minister R.R. Patil said: “We will do an assessment and if it is found that Aam Aadmi Party activists deliberately violated laws and damaged property, we will take action.”
Unaffected by all this, Kejriwal continued his road show with AAP’s Mumbai candidates, Medha Patkar, Meera Sanyal and Mayank Gandhi. He travelled from South Mumbai to South Central Mumbai with them and briefly addressed Muslim voters at Khilafat House.
“The BJP hasn’t done anything for Hindus, and the Congress hasn’t done anything for Muslims. They trigger riots before elections, and then polarise voters to win elections. To fight this, the aam aadmi of this country has come together,” he said.
“They say there is a Modi wave in the country…. I don’t see any wave for Modi. If there is a wave, there is a wave of public anger against corruption. People want change. The Aam Aadmi Party has given a ray of hope to the people…. Today, only you, the aam aadmi can save this country.”
Kejriwal also addressed a rally at Vikroli’s working class neighbourhood of Kannamwar Nagar, where he reiterated his allegations that Mukesh Ambani was funding Modi and Rahul before crowing about his party.
“There is only one party which does honest politics…. That is the Aam Aadmi Party. They said we don’t know governance. But, within days, we reduced power rates, provided water to people, ordered a CAG audit of power companies.
“The Congress and the BJP were doing politics on the 1984 Sikh riots but no action was taken to set up a SIT. We set it up in weeks. FDI would have shut down small retailers. We scrapped FDI in retail,” he said.