Bharat Jodo yatra: Participants recall their experience in Tamil Nadu

Bharat yatris from different parts of India recall the overwhelming support they received in Tamil Nadu on their way to Kerala, which the Yatra entered on Saturday evening

Photo: Twitter/@INCIndia
Photo: Twitter/@INCIndia

NH Web Desk

On Day-5 of the Bharat Jodo yatra, which entered Kerala on Saturday evening, the yatris were still recalling the overwhelming response it evoked in Tamil Nadu, where Congress has been out of power for the past 55 years. It was one more signal that the Yatra is less about power and more about people.

The day before the yatra was to start, a ground report from Kanyakumari was sceptical of how much support the yatra would be able to garner. There was no activity on the ground at Kanyakumari and most people did not know about the yatra. Those who did, had only some vague idea that Rahul Gandhi was reaching Kanyakumari. The groundswell of support over the next four days dispelled the doubts.

A yatri from Bihar summed it up. It was such an extraordinary moment when we were shouting slogans in Tamil while local residents were shouting them in Hindi, he recalled. Pointing out that Tamilians always opposed imposition of Hindi and were proud of their own language, he suggested that the yatra was unifying people in ways even the yatris had not imagined.

Another yatri recalled meeting 64-year-old Usaiah from Medpalli village in Telangana. His social media post read: “When he got to know about the Bharat Jodo Yatra, he decided to participate and took a bus to Chennai, from where he reached Kanyakumari. Upon reaching, he realised that he had arrived late and the yatra had already left.

"He then sat in another bus on the route of the Yatra and told the conductor to drop him where Rahul Gandhi was. The driver and the conductor did exactly that and dropped him at Puliyoorkurichy in Tamil Nadu from where he joined the Yatra and started walking. We met him on the way as he carried his luggage with him. We were inspired by his determination and his passion towards this beautiful country called India.”

A third yatri explained to TV channel Aaj Tak why he did not accept a lift and continued walking despite blisters on his feet. It was painful but his conscience did not allow him to ask for a lift. When the young and the old were walking so purposefully, how could he take a ride, he asked.

What is more, he was left far behind and was a straggler, walking virtually alone. Normal traffic had resumed on the route. But whenever people realised that he was a Bharat yatri, was in pain and had got left behind, people would rush out to help and offer him even food from their home. It was an uplifting experience, he added.

From unemployed youth to differently enabled people, from MGNREGA workers to manual scavengers, from the first woman to drive a bus in Tamil Nadu to a controversial Christian priest, from Dalit activists to women and from school students to unemployed youth—wanted to have a chat with Rahul Gandhi and the yatris. The direct dialogue, another objective of the Yatra, did take place every single day so far. Differences in language did not matter.

The atmosphere was electric and the spirit that of a carnival. Women with the national flag in their hand, children dressed as Mahatma Gandhi and men lined the streets, waiting to greet the yatris and wave them on. People took selfies with Rahul Gandhi and he would stop and oblige.

Tamil Nadu gave a great start to the Bharat Jodo Yatra in the first four days. It has of course a long way to go.

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