Oommen Chandy's mortal remains taken from Thiruvananthapuram to Kottayam, emotional scenes mark procession
His body was taken to Kottayam by road in a specially modified low-floor bus covered in garlands and pictures of Chandy and packed with party leaders and workers
Former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy, who died in Bengaluru a day ago, bid adieu to the state capital Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday as his mortal remains were taken to Kottayam, the stronghold of the Congress stalwart.
During his decades-long political career, he had spent a major chunk of his life in the state capital as legislator, leader of the Congress party and a chief minister.
His body was taken to Kottayam by road in a specially modified low-floor bus covered in garlands and pictures of Chandy and packed with party leaders and workers.
The bus was sent off around 7.20 am from his residence here by a large number of party workers and supporters shouting slogans in support of the departed leader.
Teary-eyed party workers also walked and jogged alongside the bus and many others walked in front of it.
People, with children in tow, were lined up at many places for a last glimpse of the veteran Congress leader as the bus moved through the state capital.
It was an emotionally charged scene outside the Niyamasabha, where he was a constant figure for 53 years, with assembly staff -- including the watch-and-ward personnel -- coming out to catch a final glimpse of the veteran Congress leader as they bid farewell to him.
The journey was slow as thousands, including schoolchildren and elderly persons, lined up on the roadside along the route of the bus to get one last glance of their "hero" and take his photograph with the vehicle having to stop several times as a result.
They also showered petals on the vehicle.
Those whom Chandy had helped in one way or another also turned up to see him for the last time.
One such person told TV channels that Chandy was the reason he is able to walk again.
"I suffered injuries in one of my legs in 2005 and required surgery to be able to walk again. I met sir (Chandy) when he was CM with a request for funds for the surgery. He heard my plea and immediately sanctioned the funds for my operation. I am able to walk again now thanks to him," he said.
Many others who had lined up on the roadside said Chandy had a special place in their hearts and that he was a leader who was irreplaceable.
State Cooperation Minister V N Vasavan, who hails from Kottayam, also accompanied Chandy's remains to his hometown.
"He (Chandy) loved and respected his political rivals and opponents. That is the kind of political leader he was. There was a mutual love and respect among us," the Minister told reporters.
Arrangements have been made at the Thirunakkara Ground in Kottayam for the public to pay homage to Chandy and thereafter, his body will be shifted to his home in nearby Puthuppally.
People started arriving at his home in Puthuppally in the morning to pay respects to Chandy when his remains were brought there.
One of them, a ward member of the area, broke down saying she cannot imagine he has passed away.
"He was always there for us. Always helped everyone who was in need. We cannot believe he has gone. He will never leave our hearts," she said told reporters.
Another woman of the area, speaking through her tears, said Chandy helped her in getting her daughters married. "I could not see him once more while he was still alive," she cried.
The funeral is scheduled to be held on Thursday at Puthuppally church.
Chandy had been representing the assembly constituency of Puthuppally, where he is affectionately called 'Kunjukunju' by the people, for the last 53 years, and locals recall that the doors to his home were always open for anyone to walk in and discuss matters with him at any time of the day.
Chandy, who served as the Chief Minister of Kerala twice, breathed his last in a private hospital in Bengaluru at 4.25 AM. His end came while undergoing treatment for cancer, party sources said. He was 79.
After his body was brought to Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, thousands turned up from across the southern state to catch a last glimpse of the Congress stalwart.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, his Cabinet colleagues, leaders of various political parties as well as cultural and religious leaders paid homage to Chandy in the state capital on Tuesday.