The Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi completed its Thiruvananthapuram leg on Tuesday.
The MP interacted with Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) workers and those protesting against the SilverLine semi-high-speed rail project on the day.
The rally which resumed from the Alummoodu market in Kaniyapuram continued to draw large crowds who braved the intermittent downpour. The padayatra which halted at Kallambalam for the day will resume at Navaikulam, nearly 4 km away from Kadampattukonam, where it will enter Kollam district on Wednesday.
The Congress leader heard the concerns of the representatives of the Samsthana K-Rail SilverLine Virudha Janakeeya Samiti, which has been spearheading the agitation against the K-Rail project during the mid-day halt at Mamom, near Attingal.
In reference to the meeting, Congress general secretary in-charge of communications Jairam Ramesh tweeted: “During lunch break at Attingal, @RahulGandhi listened to MGNREGA workers and activists opposing K-Rail. He articulated the need for a paradigm for social welfare, and that K-Rail is unnecessary with cheaper and better options available for mass transportation. (sic)”
Emerging from the discussion, action council chairman M.P. Baburaj told mediapersons that Mr. Gandhi had pledged his support towards their movement. “He voiced concern over the social and environmental impacts of the project. He advocated exploring options to enhance speeds of the existing railway system by strengthening rail lines and modifying the signalling system,” he said.
Addressing his last public meeting in the district at Kallambalam, Mr. Gandhi said a divided and hateful India could not succeed in solving its problems. “The yatra aims at bringing harmony, peace and compassion back to the country. It will strive to bring together all Indians, regardless of their religion and community,” he said, while adding that he would pay respects to social reformer Sree Narayana Guru when the rally resumes on Wednesday.
On Kerala’s roads
The Congress leader also voiced a “complaint” on the occasion. He urged the State government to review the design of roads that had been witnessing numerous accidents. Pointing out that his was not a critical, but a constructive view, Mr. Gandhi said hidden behind such “bad design” were several tragedies.
“While walking on these roads for the past few days, I’ve noticed several ambulances carrying victims of road accidents. There is something wrong with the design of your roads. I am not blaming the LDF (Left Democratic Front) or the Chief Minister since some have been built during the UDF (United Democratic Front) rule too,” he pointed out.