Facing criticism over the chaos and vandalism that marked his local train and autorickshaw travel in Mumbai, Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday accused the media of blowing up the matter and dismissed the charge that it was a "symbolic stunt".
Notwithstanding complaints from commuters of having been inconvenienced by the AAP leader's rides yesterday, Kejriwal said the media was to be held responsible for the "whole tamasha (drama)".
"The whole tamasha was staged by the media asking leading questions to commuters about inconvenience caused by my local train travel. Our people did not indulge in any vandalism. The common people were happy with my trip," he told a Marathi news channel in response to adverse criticism in some quarters for "disrupting" the routine of Mumbai's "aam aadmi" at peak hour on Wednesday.
He refuted the allegation that his travel by auto and local train was only "a symbolic stunt" adding that he always used all modes of transport.
Kejriwal repeated his allegation that the media was paid "money" to project BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and defame the AAP leader.
"I request the media with folded hands not to destroy the small sapling of AAP which has offered hope to common people," he said.
Kejriwal kicked off his Lok Sabha campaign in Maharashtra on Wednesday with a ride on a suburban train in Mumbai that was marked by black flags and chaos.
He then took out a 'Jhaadu Chalao Yatra' through Mumbai streets along with AAP Lok Sabha nominees Medha Patkar and Meera Sanyal, before attending a private fund-raising meeting, after which he began another road show traversing South Mumbai.
Earlier in the day, AAP spokesperson Preeti Sharma had told PTI that Kejriwal, who was to leave for Nagpur this morning may leave by evening as he has taken ill due to gruelling schedule on the first day of his campaign trail.
Image: Arvind Kejriwal gestures towards his supporters during a road show in Mumbai on Wednesday
Photograph: Sahil Salve