By Alok Singh and Shweta Sharma
It was at 10.45 am on Saturday that Arvind Kejriwal stepped out of his Kaushambi residence in suburban Ghaziabad for his date with destiny.
He was headed towards the Metro station to take the oath of office for the chief minister of Delhi at Ramlila Maidan that was packed to capacity with tens of thousands of people.
Unable to navigate the press of people waiting to greet him outside his residence, Kejriwal took the back gate to reach the Kaushambi metro station in his blue WagonR car. Already thousands of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporters were awaiting his arrival, shouting slogans like, 'Phool ki na haath ki, Dilli ho gayi Aap ki', 'Aam aadmi jeet ke aa, itihaas racha ke aa'(History has been made; its the common man's victory. Delh now belongs to the common man).
After the usual frisking by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Kejriwal used his smartcard to enter the platform using the lift. Soon, he joined a sea of supporters who were busy clapping, cheering, clicking pictures and video recording the momentous journey.
Many stood on the stairs and escalators to get a glimpse of the man who was going to preside over their destiny.
While the metro repeatedly made announcements requesting passengers to maintain distance from the metro track, milling supporters were not in a mood to listen to the safety precautions.
In the melee, two security personnel helped Kejriwal enter the second coach (the first is reserved for women) in the metro that originated from the Vaishali metro station, one station before Kaushambi.
“It was so crowded that despite being at the counter, I could not manage to see him. With the supporters trying to enter with Kejriwal, the gates of the ticket swipe machine did not close for a few seconds,” a Delhi Metro official at the Kaushambi station told IANS.
The six-coach train, which was till then thinly occupied, made it easy for Kejriwal to get a seat, while the rest packed every inch of space inside to be part of a tryst with history.
Wearing a white-and-black checked shirt, trousers and a blue pullover, Kejriwal looked somewhat bewildered as he surveyed the crowd inside the metro.
“We never thought the crowd would be this huge,” his wife Sunita Kejriwal, an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) official, told IANS at the platform.
Sunita was accompanied by their children, Harshita and Pulkit, and the family members of AAP leaders, Manish Sisodia and Kumar Vishwas. But the family was in a different coach from Kejriwal.
Men, women and the young pushed and jostled for space not only on the platform, but also inside the metro for a glimpse of the man who would be Delhi's seventh chief minister.
“I am here just to see Arvind Kejriwal. I do not live in Kaushambi, but have especially come here to travel with him. I hope I get to meet him,” said 18-year old Shweta Singh.
Kejriwal, who kept coughing, was offered water by eager supporters. The bottle was tossed and passed around briskly, with supporters making sure it reaches him without delay.
With the metro packed beyond capacity, not many commuters waiting at the 11 metro stations (Kaushambi to Barakhamba Road), could board the train, except for AAP supporters who pushed their way inside.
Pawan Kumar, 50, who was initially unable to board the metro from Nirman Vihar metro station, requested the passengers inside the train to let him in.
“I have been waiting for long. Please let me in, and be a part of this historic journey,” he urged the passengers. He managed to slip in.
Perhaps imbued with a sense of history, Kejriwal did not speak much during the 30-minute journey. He was flanked by Kumar Vishwas and another regular commuter.
IANS reporters, who managed to get in the same coach as Kejriwal, noted Kejriwal adjusting his woollen scarf and tying it properly just before he reached his destination.
Hundreds of cheering supporters were waiting at the Barakhamba Road platform with garlands, banners and congratulatory placards.
The supporters soon created a human chain, paving way for Kejriwal to exit the platform using the lift, and exiting using his metro smartcard.
Amid the bedlam of the supporters on the road outside, Kejriwal finally headed for Ramlila ground in his car waiting right outside the station. His family traveled separately in another car.
For the throngs travelling with him, it was a ride to remember, a story to tell with pride their families and friends.
Updated Date: Dec 28, 2013 16:10:11 IST