“I saw him. I saw him!” chirped 7-year-old Evangeline at the landmark Koshy’s restaurant in Bengaluru on Sunday afternoon.She was excited to see Congress president Rahul Gandhi having an anything-but-quiet lunch, with his entourage of Congress leaders — including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah — and his bewildered Special Protection Group (SPG) securitymen. The Congress chief took a break from his packed schedule and went on an impromptu tour of the Central Business District, clicking selfies with citizens, buying books and riding on the Metro.
Post-lunch, Rahul chose to cool it off with a Kulfi from a petty shop nearby even as bystanders clicked photos and shook hands with him.Rahul then boarded the Metro at Vidhana Soudha station. “He wanted to see the underground line and took the Metro from Vidhana Soudha to MG Road. There was no special coach and he boarded like any other citizen,” said a partyman.
Rahul pleasantly surprised the unsuspecting Metro commuters who gleefully posed for selfies with him.
Siddarmaiah bought tickets for Rahul and his entourage. They all boarded an already crowded coach.
Standing throughout the journey, Rahul spoke to as many people on board as he could.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday took time for an outing in Bengaluru amid a packed schedule. Ten years ago, Rahul Gandhi had visited Koshy’s and on Sunday, when he was back at the restaurant, he chose to order the same items— prawn curry and rice.“The dog squad first entered the AC section for inspection, but Rahul Gandhi chose to sit in the non-AC room of the restaurant. I guess he just wanted to be a common citizen today,” said Sharath, a customer at the restaurant who waited to get a glimpse of the Congress boss.
Flanked by party leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Dr G Parameshwara, Veerappa Moily, Dinesh Gundu Rao, S R Patil, Krishna Byregowda, Rizwan Arshad etc Rahul Gandhi sat next to Siddaramaiah and relished the food at Koshy’s. At the end of his meal, he was shown pictures of his great-grandfather Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and grandmother Indira Gandhi’s visit to the restaurant.
“The last I visited Koshy’s was two years ago. I remember walking inside this restaurant with the likes of S M Krishna after the parade at Manekshaw parade grounds. This is, however, the first time I have come here with Rahul Gandhi,” senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said.Customers at Koshy’s were, however, more excited than inconvenienced. The same could not be said about the traffic outside.
Rahul Gandhi then decided to board the Metro at Vidhana Soudha station. Ministers like Krishna Byregowda accompanied Rahul Gandhi through the entire outing. “There were commuters in the Metro when we boarded and at first they didn’t realise what was happening. He led and we went with the flow. I hope people’s lunches were not disturbed,” Krishna Byregowda said.
Once out of the Metro station, Rahul walked up on the recently inaugurated cobblestoned Church street to a bookstore. He walked out with five books- A History of God by Karen Armstrong, The Goat Thief by Perumal Murugan, Ikigai by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, The Art of Living and The Miracle of Mindfulness Thich Nhat Hanh- all gifted to him by Siddaramaiah. The impromptu run then concluded at Koshy’s restaurant where the leaders had a hearty lunch.
Rahul Gandhi’s day out threw off regular traffic as people started gathering outside Koshy’s. Traffic snarls were witnessed even as the Congress leaders made their way out of the restaurant. When asked if Rahul Gandhi’s moves were a security concern, an SPG personnel said that they had grown used to it.
“This has happened too many times now and we know the drill. Everything is under control,” the personnel said.