He started his speech to a packed Bhaidas Hall in Vile Parle by describing his ideal of an inclusive India.
“My father was from Mumbai, my mother is from Italy and I live in Delhi, but I still call myself an Indian,” Rahul Gandhi told a 1,100-strong crowd of college students from across the city.
Moments later, he asked for a show of hands, wanting to know how many in the audience were interested in politics.
Then he stepped off the stage and spoke to them “Indian to Indian”, as one student described it.
“He asked what we thought of politics and told us he wanted to open doors to people who do not come through lineage like him,” said Nidhi Bang a post-graduate student.
Gandhi also spoke of “two or three people trying to divide the state on the basis of language” and said the Congress was against them.
“He told us there were two kinds of parties — those who divide and rule and others, like the Congress, that believes in unity. He asked us to stand with him for a better, New India,” said Prabdeep Singh (23), a business management student who says he now plans to join the Youth Congress.
At the Dalit-dominated Ramabai Nagar slums, however, there was some disappointment. Because of the delay caused by his train journey, Gandhi made only a three-minute speech here and then left.
“Though Rahulji made a brief speech, he conveyed so many inspiring things to us,” said Arfad Khan (26), a resident of Chandivali. “He asked us to take active part in politics unmindful of influential party leaders. I just wish he could have stayed longer.”