Mumbai, March 12 :
AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal Wednesday took an auto-rickshaw from the airport to Andheri station from where he travelled in a suburban train during the launch of his campaign in Maharashtra. The BJP said the AAP was a “dramebaaz” party.
Welcomed by a huge crowd of AAP activists, a large media contingent and a significant police presence, the former Delhi chief minister stepped out of the Mumbai airport and hailed an auto along with two other party leaders.
A contingent of police personnel, media persons and party activists tailed the auto over the entire five-km distance till Kejriwal alighted near Andheri station east.
At least another dozen auto-rickshaws hired in advance by AAP supporters drove in hot pursuit to keep pace with Kejriwal’s auto, and at one point reportedly broke a traffic signal.
Enthusiastic AAP supporters were seen hanging out of the autos and stopping them haphazardly near Andheri station, creating a traffic jam for a few minutes.
As he got down, another crowd cheered and virtually mobbed Kejriwal, who was clad in a skyblue shirt, sleeves partly rolled up, his trademark AAP cap and dark trousers.
“I paid the auto fare of Rs.48 for the ride to the auto driver, who was in turn mobbed by the electronic media for his bytes,” city AAP treasurer Suresh Acharya told IANS.
Wearing a bewildered expression, Kejriwal acknowledged the AAP supporters by raising his hands and saying something but it was drowned in the cacophony, Acharya said.
At one point, the former Delhi chief minister even briefly climbed onto a wall near the station to give his supporters a ‘darshan’ (glimpse), but was then whisked away by party activists inside the railway station.
He then climbed the bridge to go to Western Railway Andheri platform No.2 and entered a second class compartment of the suburban train which was as usual full.
Acharya had bought a single ticket for the Andheri-Churchgate commute. Kejriwal took a window seat in the 11.26 Andheri-Churchgate regular local train.
A few commuters managed to chat with Kejriwal briefly while a college professor was convinced by the AAP leader and joined the party on the spot.
A couple of people cancelled their plans and said they will accompany Kejriwal on his campaign in south and northeast Mumbai later in the day, Acharya said.
All through the journey Kejriwal dodged the media microphones aimed at his face as AAP volunteers craned their necks to catch a glimpse and police personnel jostled with commuters to prevent them from getting too close to the leader.
At Churchgate station, there was more chaos as some AAP volunteers brought down a metal detector to clear the way for Kejriwal’s entourage.
However, Bharatiya Janata Party city spokesperson Shaina N.C. said the AAP has no respect for Mumbai commuters. “It’s a party of dramebaaz,” she said.