By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri (Midday)
(With inputs from Gaurav Pandhi)
11 September 2022, 12PM: The Indian National Congress commenced Day 4 of its Bharat Jodo Yatra with a 6:30AM flag hoisting at Samuel LMS Higher-secondary school, Cheruvarakonam, Parassala, Trivandrum.
Post the hoisting, and rendition of Vande Mataram and the National Anthem, the yatris assembled at the Parasssala Junction near the Tamil Nadu border, thus giving a symbolic significance to the start of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kerala.
The Congress cadres were given an overwhelming welcome and send off, with crowds lining the town streets to see the yatris and their leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, Member of Parliament. Included in the crowd was 10 year old equestrian Diya who came atop her horse to see the yatris off!
There was a celebratory air to the proceedings all through the yatra. Fellow travellers included people from all walks of life, such as Company Secretary Rajeevan who had come from Chennai himself to participate in the yatra.
The yatris walked around 14 kilometres in the first half of the day, passing through Idchikkaplamoodu, Amaravilla before arriving for the daily midday halt at the Madhavi mandir complex in Neyattinkara.
Along the route Rahul Gandhi walked with environmentalist Sridhar Radhakrishnan to discuss a host of issues including climate change. Gandhi also paused at a tea shop along the way to converse with people there.
The yatra also continues to excite incredible responses from party cadres. Suvarna, 53 from Kerala, was seen walking with bloodied feet! When asked she replied “Congress is in my blood and this yatra is a once in a lifetime chance to make a big impact”.
Speaking to the media at Neyattinkara, party General Secretary and Member Of Parliament said “India’s oldest political party is in the world’s longest padyatra with 30 percent women participation, and an average Yatri age of 38. This is a new Congress, an aggressive Congress”. Ramesh also announced the launch of the Bharat Jodo Yatra theme song in Malayalam.
Party General Secretary and Member of Parliament KC Venugopal said “We know this is going to be a historic yatra, a milestone in our political history”
Said Digvijay Singh, Member of Parliament, and chairman of the Bharat Jodo Committee, “We are moving out of Tamil speaking Tamil Nadu into Malayalam speaking Kerala. This shows the diversity of this country, and unity in diversity is our strength”. When questioned about the response to the yatra so far, Singh said it was “Much better than expected. We sometimes may not understand the local language, but their affection and response to us was amazing”