In a snub to Shiv Sena, Rahul Gandhi hopped on to two suburban trains on Friday throwing caution to wind in the wake of security threat to make a last minute detour through Sena bastions during his brief visit to this metropolis.
With Bal Thackeray issuing a diktat to his party cadres to greet the "Italian Prince" with black flags to mark the party's protest against his "Mumbai for all" remarks, the defiant Congress general secretary cocked a snook at the Sena supremo when he jettisoned plans to go to a slum in Ghatkopar by a waiting helicopter for his second and final engagement in the city.
Unfazed by the Sena threat and in a gesture loaded with symbolism, Rahul, who was on his way from suburban Vile Parle to Ghatkopar after addressing college students abruptly disembarked from his motorcade outside Andheri railway station of Western Railway line and got in a Dadar-bound local train. There were reports that Rahul even went to an ATM.
He travelled on the Virar-Dadar fast train in a second-class compartment along with the general public much to their delight but sending security personnel in a tizzy. He got off 15 minutes later around 1.15 pm at Dadar.
At Dadar railway station, Rahul crossed a bridge to come to the central line from where he took a train to Ghatkopar.
He got into a first class coach of the Kalyan-bound to go to Ghatkopar, which is four stations away, a railway official said.
Rahul also signed autographs for starry-eyed passengers who gushed at seeing him in their company. After a four-hour visit, Rahul left for Puducherry.
The scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family did not lose an opprtunity to send a loud and clear message to the Shiv Sena warning people in Mumbai against attempts to divide them on communal and linguistic basis.