Rahul Gandhi ends Mumbai visit, cocks a snook at Shiv Sena, MNS

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Mumbai, Feb.5 (ANI): Congress General Secreatry Rahul Gandhi completed an eventful four-hour-long visit to Mumbai on Friday afternoon, ignoring warnings of caution from the right-wing Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) about statements related to the city and other parts of Maharashtra.

Gandhi left by helicopter for Puducherry, but not before indirectly cocking a snook at both the Shiv Sena and the MNS.

During his four-hour-long stay, Gandhi swept aside security norms set for him to stop at an ATM in Santa Cruz for cash, boarded a local train from Andheri to Dadar, interacted with people in the streets and in the train and signed autographs. Besides this, he also interacted with and addressed Youth Congress activists in colleges in the city's Vile Parle and Ghatkopar areas.

Vile Parle, Dadar and Ghatkopar are Shiv Sena bastions politically, and Gandhi, it seems, appeared to be sending a pointed message to the right-wing outfit that he meant what he said that Mumbai is for all Indians, and not just for the "Marathi Manoos", Maharastrians and Mumbaikars.

The visit to Mumbai was already scheduled, and led to Gandhi missing out on an all important Congress meeting on the price rise in Delhi.

Soon after his arrival in India's business capital, Gandhi was greeted by sloganeering Shiv Sainiks waving black flags in protest against his remark in Bihar that the Shiv Sena and MNS needed to remember that north Indian security personnel had played a significant role in neutralising the 26/11 terrorists, and that Mumbai was for all Indians.

The SS and the MNS leaderships took umbrage at the statement, saying Gandhi was interfering with the internal affairs of Maharashtrians and not giving credit to people like Hemant Karkare, former chief of Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Force (ATS), police inspector Tukaram Omble, encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte, all Maharashtrians, who had also lost their lives in that tragic event.

Friday's visit saw the imposition of unprecedented security across Mumbai by the city's police. Movement was restricted in all areas that Gandhi visited. Traffic also came to a grinding halt.

No stone was left unturned to prevent the Shiv Sainiks from causing disturbances. Over 40 of them were arrested on charges of violating Section 144 of the IPC.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan can claim credit for ensuring an incident-free visit for Rahul Gandhi. His words that he would not let anyone lay an hand on Rahul Gandhi carried weight at the end of the day. (ANI)

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