Nedumbassery airport witnesses feverish sloganeering accompanied by jostling for space
Scoring brownie points even at the most inopportune moment is something that is wont to political parties.
Outside the international terminal of the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) on Saturday, they vied with one another to cash in on the media attention surrounding the return of stranded Indian nurses from Iraq. A motley crowd comprising relatives of rescued nurses, their well-wishers, journalists and workers of different political formulations had gathered well before the arrival of the nurses, rescheduled for 11.55 a.m.
Half an hour before their arrival, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy spoke to the media. With the cameras turning to Mr. Chandy, a crowd of khadi-clad politicians swelled around him. Soon, armed with banners and placards, Congress and BJP supporters blocked the alleyway at the exit gate, shouting slogans in deafening pitch hailing their leaders for the successful evacuation mission. Not to be outdone, activists of the Welfare Party of India and the Aam Aadmi Party in their trademark Gandhi caps occupied space nearby. The inmates of Janaseva Shishubhavan, in the meantime, lined up along the pathway in the vicinity carrying placards with slogans against war. Later, the children were seen shepherded to offer bouquets to the nurses on arrival.
Activists of both the DYFI and the AIYF, youth organs of the CPI(M) and the CPI, also made their presence felt even as members of the Kerala chapter of the Trained Nurses Association of India were seen clearing people who obstructed the visibility of their banner. Then there were those wielding the Tricolour.
Insanity prevailed after the arrival of the flight carrying the nurses was announced, as feverish sloganeering was accompanied by jostling for space. For sometime, it appeared as if a slogan shouting contest was under way.
While Congress supporters hailed Mr. Chandy for securing safe release and return of the nurses, the BJP was vociferously rooting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushama Swaraj. As the nurses streamed out, accompanied by relatives, there was a mad scramble to be the first to welcome them with sweets and flowers. To make matters worse, TV journalists mobbed them all for interviews as well. Earlier, the delay in the arrival of the plane proved a blessing for the media assembled at the airport from early morning and in some cases since late night on Friday. Relatives and friends of the nurses hardly had any time to relax with the national and local media keeping them engaged with interviews and chats.