AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal Wednesday launched his Lok Sabha poll campaign in Maharashtra with a ride on a suburban train that was marked by chaos and vandalism amid complaints of commuters being inconvenienced.
AAP workers were accused of vandalising railway property after metal detectors were damaged during the chaos at the Churchgate station where Kejriwal arrived by train from Andheri.
There was chaos at Churchgate station on Kejriwal’s arrival. The AAP leader earlier also took an autorickshaw ride.
Welcomed by a crowd of AAP activists, the former Delhi chief minister stepped out of the airport and hailed an auto rickshaw along with two other senior party leaders. There was a large media contingent and a significant police presence at the airport.
A contingent of police personnel, journalists and party activists trailed the auto rickshaw over the entire 5-km distance until Kejriwal got off near Andheri station.
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The AAP chief then boarded the city’s lifeline Mumbai local to travel to Churchgate station in south Mumbai.
As he alighted, a crowd greeted, cheered and virtually mobbed Kejriwal, who was clad in a skyblue shirt with sleeves partly rolled up, his trademark AAP cap and dark trousers. Kejriwal acknowledged their greetings by raising his hands.
Metal detectors at the Churchgate station were toppled in the rush as AAP workers made their way out.
Among the crowd was also a group of youths who showed black flags to Kejriwal as he was leaving the station.
They said they did not belong to any organisation but were students who were protesting against Kejriwal’s alleged “media management” as seen in a leaked video of him on YouTube in which he appears to tell a news anchor to highlight parts of his interview.
Reacting to the damage to property during Kejriwal’s arrival, Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil said the state government will assess whether the damage was accidental or deliberate and take action accordingly.
“Wherever law has been flouted action will be taken. Political parties should think while organising such programmes. In a city like Mumbai, it causes immense discomfort to commuters,” Patil said.
Patil also said there is a law in Maharashtra which says that the cost of damage to public property shall be recovered from those responsible.