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BJP mega rally in Mumbai throws traffic out of gear

Though the rally was at Azad Maidan, the effect was seen almost at all entry points to the city in places like Chembur, Bhandup, Vikhroli, both the highways, and Thane.

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The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) mega march against corruption on Monday led to traffic jams in various parts of the city as vehicles full of villagers and activists from almost all districts of Maharashtra made their way to south Mumbai to attend the rally.

Though the rally was at Azad Maidan, the effect was seen almost at all entry points to the city in places like Chembur, Bhandup, Vikhroli, both the highways, and Thane.

The city witnessed huge traffic jams during the morning peak hour as buses and private vehicles made their way to the function, scheduled to begin at 11.00 am.

The ‘Mafia-Sarkar Hatao’ anti-corruption rally had been organised to coincide with the first day of the budget session of the Maharashtra assembly.

Over 3,000 buses and four trains from Jalgaon, Nagpur and Konkan got villagers to the city on a working day and congregated them at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). There was chaos as the crowds haphazardly parked vehicles, blocking the main CST square.

“This is not done. Political parties should not gather such crowds on working days as it inconveniences one and all. Though their cause may be noble, it defeats the purpose if it holds up traffic and delays commuters,” Shruti Makwana, an office executive, said.

Rashmi Potdar, another commuter, said: “The chaos and traffic jams only meant that taxi drivers got a reason to refuse to ply. Though there were so many traffic policemen, no one came to my assistance.”

For many villagers, though, it was time for Mumbai darshan. With the BJP distributing free water bottles and arranging travel, it was a virtual picnic for many who were seen taking photographs against the backdrop of the iconic CST and BMC headquarters.

Azad Maidan and the cricket nets there were littered with garbage and piled-up plastic mineral bottles. The crowd was so huge that it spilled onto the ground’s playing areas and was not restricted to the fenced portion.

BJP leaders said that the gathering was a success and that they had rattled the office machinery to get people from rural parts of the state.

“More than 40% vehicles could not reach Azad Maidan, as the police stopped them in various parts of the city and suburbs, citing traffic jams,” BJP leader Vinod Tawde said.

Asked about the inconvenience caused to commuters, Tawde said: “The rally was a success, and this was possible because of the passive support of Mumbaikars as they bore with us despite the inconvenience. However, we do apologise to everyone who missed their interviews or such important appointments. But it was for the greater good of society.”

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