KOCHI: By around 6.30pm on Thursday, the Ravipuram crematorium in Kochi was chock-a-block. The state honour of three rounds of fire by the police was over. But the hundreds of people who had gathered to have a final glimpse of the departed leader were still not dispersing. Finally, the family pleaded with them to leave so that the pyre could be lit.
It was a farewell that PT Thomas would have been proud of. His last journey from his birthplace Upputhodu to Thodupuzha in Idukki and then to Thrikkakara, the two constituencies which he represented, and finally ended in Kochi, a place where he spent his youth and where he emerged as a seasoned politician.
It’s also the city where he cultivated friends across the political, academic and cultural spectrum, and found his life partner. His close friends and party colleagues ensured that his last wishes were followed to a T — no wreaths or flowers on his body, song ‘Chandrakalabham’ played softly and cremated without any religious ceremonies.
As the Vayalar’s song played softly in the air, wherever the body was kept, people broke into tears as they bade adieu to the Congress leader. The mortal remains of PT, as he is fondly called by party colleagues and friends, were consigned to flames at Ravipuram crematorium in the evening.
His elder son Vishnu lit the pyre while the funeral rites were performed around 7pm. While Congress national leader Rahul Gandhi who was on his two-day constituency visit to Wayanad rushed to Kochi and consoled the bereaved family, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan flew down to Kochi and paid his respects at Thrikkakara Community Hall, after receiving President Ram Nath Kovind in Thiruvananthapuram. The funeral procession left Thodupuzha block Congress office by 8.30am and the journey took about three hours to reach his home at Palarivattom as his cortege had to be stopped at Muvattupuzha, Kolenchery and Vyttila to enable the Congress workers and public to pay their last respects.
Party workers, family members and people from his native place accompanied the hearse. Hundreds of people waited patiently at Muvattupuzha for hours to have a final glimpse of the leader as earlier it was announced that the procession would reach here by 4.30am. However, the funeral procession arrived by 9am, nearly 41/2 hours behind schedule.
Party workers raised the slogans like ‘Nilapdinte Rajave, Jeevikkunnu Njangaliloode’ (King of convictions, you continue to live through us) to extend solidarity to the leader who stood firm on his stances including Gadgil Committee Report on the Western Ghats.
For one moment, it looked as if the river of mourners would never end, further delaying the final journey to the DCC office and to Ernakulam Town Hall. Police had a tough time controlling the crowd. By 11.30am, the body was taken to the DCC office in a specially decorated KURTC bus accompanied by family members and senior party leaders.
P T Thomas, a four-time MLA and one-time MP, and working president of Congress state unit, died at Christian Medical College in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, on Wednesday while undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.