By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri (Midday)
(With inputs from Gaurav Pandhi)
12 September 2022, 12PM: The Indian National Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra completed the fifth day of its journey, arriving in the evening at Kazhakkuttom, Thiruvantharapuram, Kerala.
The yatra got off to a remarkable start in the afternoon with a large crowd that turned out to see Congress leaders and the yatris. As it continued, people lined the streets in tens of thousands. The marchers moved in a festive atmosphere with drums playing, with the excited crowds cheering them on as they were showered with flowers at various points in the walk.
Member of Parliament and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi continued to excite attention. Along the way, he walked with athlete and Arjuna Awardee Padmini Thomas. He also walked part of the way with Archbishop Thomas J Netto, Father Ujin Periera and Pushpam Simon and discussed the adverse living, working and economic conditions of fishermen. Today, Rahul Gandhi also visited and prayed at the Chattambi Swami Temple, Kannammoola, Thiruvananthapuram.
Alongside Rahul Gandhi were Congress leaders KC Venugopal and Shashi Tharoor, and state leaders such as KPCC President K Sudhakaran. Member of Parliament Digvijay Singh continued to provide direction to the yatris as he led them at various points in the journey.
“We don’t want to stoop to the levels of BJP leaders. They are afraid. They can’t talk about the real issues that Bharat Jodo Yatra raises among the people”, said Jairam Ramesh on the ridiculous charges being made by the BJP on the yatra
Even children were excited to participate. Ann Lia Joseph (8), and Kevin Pio Joseph (10), were waiting to present a flower to Rahul Gandhi. While disappointed that they did not get the opportunity due to large crowds, they were nevertheless happy when a congress worker offered them a flower on behalf of the yatris and Rahul Gandhi.
The Yatris’ morale remains high. Bharat Jodo Yatri Mohammed Arif from Tamil Nadu thought his feet were sweating, until he opened his shoes and discovered it was his blood! He had his condition looked at, treated, and continued marching through pain. “I don’t want to stop for anything,” he says “we are building our nation again.”
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.