By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri
(With inputs from Gaurav Pandhi)
“The people of Kerala have supported this yatra as if it is their own yatra” – Rahul Gandhi
16 September 2022: The Indian National Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra today completed the 8th day of its journey, arriving in the evening at Karunagappally.
There was a massive turnout when the yatra began its second phase of the day, which commenced from Kollam, and crowd participation continued to grow till the very end.
Today we met 60 year old Amarjeet from Jharkhand who has independently been walking in the yatra since the first day. He was limping a bit but is carrying on regardless. “ I am here because I believe in the Bharat Jodo Yatra as a means to unify the nation“, he said “and because I am against the BJP’s government policies that give rise to hatred, and lead to social and economic injustice.”
There was an air of celebration along the entire route. Along the way we saw a beautifully caparisoned elephant, a raised pandal with dancing, drum playing artists and a group of youngsters engaged in a music and dance performance against unemployment, inflation & falling healthcare. But a 200 metre long flag being held by locals was the icing on the cake!
Earlier in the afternoon Congress leader and Member of Parliament Rahul Gandhi met with cashew factory workers (Kollam is known for its cashew industry). These workers spoke with him about their dire economic and living conditions, such as low and unrevised wages, loss of medical benefits and overall economic exploitation. Gandhi assured them that he would raise their issues in Parliament himself. He also met up with trade union and leaders of RSP & Forward Block. Later in the day he visited Mata Amritanandamayi Ashram in Vallikavu.
Making an end of day public address in Karunagappally, Gandhi thanked people for their wholehearted support “Lakhs of people walked with us and have supported us, children, adults, senior citizens, men and women” he said. “The people of Kerala have supported this yatra as if it is their own yatra”
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 commenced in Karnataka on October 1.