By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri
(With inputs from Gaurav Pandhi)
“Ordinary men and women… see this yatra as a powerful method to bring positive change”
19 September 2022: As the yatris completed the Punnapra to Chertala route today, they knew that they were not just ending a day’s journey but as they arrived in Chertala, they were in fact entering the place of birth of a Congress Party icon: A.K Antony, three time Chief Ministry of Kerala, erstwhile Indian Defence Minister and a towering personality of Indian politics.
In the afternoon break period the yatris were witness to the world famous, stunningly beautiful backwaters in Alappuzha, a once in a lifetime opportunity for many. They also saw Congress MPs Rahul Gandhi and KC Venugopal vigorously paddling in a snake boat race at the Punnamada lake!
MPs Rahul Gandhi and KC Venugopal participate in snake boat race
But they also learned of the threat of climate change, and destruction of this natural heritage through man made activities such as unchecked sand mining. Gandhi met local residents who have been protesting for more than a year against sand mining in the region.
Beneath the idyllic surface were other clear signals how government policies were crippling growth, and incidentally why this yatra is gaining so much traction. In the afternoon Gandhi interacted with Kerala tourism industry representatives who apprised him of how the sector was reeling under huge revenue declines and an apathetic government that was unable or unwilling to provide fiscal support.
Gandhi’s interaction with the fishing community in the morning also brought home to yatris, how this significant group is largely neglected and marginalised.
In the late afternoon the padyatra resumed at Kalavoor Junction. Keshav Yadav Bharat Yatri from Uttar Pradesh spoke about his experiences. “I see non- political people lining the roads, ordinary men and women who are curious about us, and see this yatra as a powerful method to bring positive change”
Today, Revanth Reddy, President Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee also joined the yatra. The padyatris will halt for the night at St. Michael’s College, Cherthala.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra is presently in the state of Kerala. Over 19 days in the state, it will cover 7 districts over 450 kilometres, before it commences in Karnataka on October 1.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra is a five month, 3500 kilometre long padyatra from Kanyakumari in the South of India to Srinagar in the North. It is part of the party’s national mass outreach program aimed at highlighting social polarisation, economic inequalities and political centralisation.
(Local area research by Aparna Ashwarya, INC Communications Department)
End of Day Travel Facts
- Distance traveled today (Source: Yatri Jhabar Sherawat’s walking app): 21.4 Km/ 28,210 steps
- Route traveled/major settlements: Punnapra – Chertala
- Current District Name – Alappuzha
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