HomeIndiaRahul, a passenger passing through Kerala, a voice on the ground: 'Don't...

Rahul, a passenger passing through Kerala, a voice on the ground: ‘Don’t get tired, just move your feet’

It is 6 in the morning and Desom Junction in Kerala, 19 km from Kochi, looks like a police post. As the day progresses, men dressed in white – members of Congress – maneuver among scores of police personnel. At 6.30, an announcement comes out, a sudden flurry of activity: “Rahulji has left Aluva UC College (last night’s campsite), he is coming soon.”

To control the crowd, policemen pull ropes from their vehicles, bring bundles of Congress party flags, unfurl tricolor balloons and some people kneel. In no time, Desom is all set to kick off the 15th day of the India pairing Travel,

Rahul waits for the crowd for 15 minutes before landing in the middle of a team of Congress workers. Accompanied by senior leaders, he begins to march.

As the journey moves on the national highway, the crowd increases. For the Kerala days, a two-day one for Ernakulam district and one for the day phase, except for the 120-odd, which would complete the entire 151-day journey.

E Nisrudin, a Youth Congress worker from Kollam, says: “I have joined the yatra from Kanyakumari, but have to stop at the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. I am allowed only in Kerala leg. I have requested the party to allow me to walk till Kashmir.

Nisrudin, who runs a catering firm, said many passengers, including him, felt tense in the initial days. “But things have changed now. We draw energy from the huge turnout of people. Rahul takes care of all of us. Every day, he interacts with us and looks after our welfare. We don’t have to worry about any logistics. Don’t have to. We wake up at 4 in the morning and get ready for the day’s walk. You just need to move your legs,” said the local Youth Congress leader in Kollam’s Kundara.

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Travel banners and hoardings have been put up on both sides of the road. There is only one face on the posters, and the same name on the lips of the thronging crowd: Rahul. The slogans that are raised occasionally are not against the CPI(M) but against them. BJP and its “divisive politics”. No slogan is raised for any Congress Kerala satrap, otherwise a ubiquitous practice in organizing any party.

Varun Alappad, a fisherman and Congress worker, has left his job to join the yatra. “This is the best season to fish and earn some money for the family. But I decided that I should join this journey for the sake of the country and its future. I am the only earner, my family is not happy with the idea.

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