THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra will complete its Kerala leg on Thursday after traversing eight districts in 18 days. While the yatra hogged headlines for the momentum it created, it also courted controversies. As Rahul Gandhi has claimed that his 3,570km journey is not a political yatra, the state Congress leadership is contented because the grass-root-level party workers have been energised.
The BJY reached the Kerala border of Parassala on September 11 from Kanyakumari and toured eight districts in the state. The padayatra will enter Karnataka from Nilambur on Thursday morning. From day one, Rahul Gandhi was accorded a warm welcome by Keralites which added to his confidence day by day. If the Gandhi scion was not considered seriously earlier, this time the people were curious and lined both sides of the roads to greet him.
After the initial hullabaloo created by the CPM and the BJP against the yatra, they toned down their criticism after realising that it is only adding to Rahul Gandhi’s advantage. The state Congress leadership has taken pride in the fact that the yatra could be well organised with meticulous planning except for the initial hiccups. National general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal ensured that Rahul Gandhi projected the party’s secular ideology and inclusive approach, which saw him visiting the places of three social reformers in Kerala Ayyankali, Sreenarayana Guru and Chattambi Swami at Venganoor, Sivagiri Mutt and Kannanmoola, respectively.
Senior Congress MP K Muraleedharan who has been accompanying Rahul Gandhi throughout the yatra told TNIE that the mass support has been unprecedented. “Every passing day, the crowd swelled. It was not just the party workers, but the general public also came out in large numbers. People jostled with each other to be with Rahul Gandhi on the front row. The enthusiasm created by Rahul Gandhi during his Wayanad Lok Sabha candidature has only increased manifold following the padayatra,” said Muraleedharan.
Congress state president K Sudhakaran and Opposition Leader V D Satheesan ensured that Rahul Gandhi had held discussions with the UDF allies including RSP and IUML. He also listened patiently to the woes of leaders of protest movements against Vizhinjam port, K-Rail, Karimanal Ghanana Virudha Ekopana Samithi and Attappadi tribals.
Veteran Congress leader A K Antony told TNIE that Rahul Gandhi has created a wave across the state.
“I can’t say how long the wave will stay in favour of the Congress. There is a long way to go for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. But I can vouch that the BJY is going to create a huge wave across the country,” said Antony.