Chandy’s final journey to hometown delayed as thousands gather along route throughout night


PTI, Jul 20, 2023, 9:18 AM IST

The hearse carrying the mortal remains of former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy, who died two days ago, are yet to reach his hometown here even 24 hours after beginning its journey from Thiruvananthapuram as thousands lined up along the route to catch a final glimpse.

People gathered in large numbers, without sleep, along the route taken by the bus carrying his remains to pay their last respects and bid him farewell, leading to the vehicle managing to only inch forward at a snail’s pace.

Chandy’s last journey had begun on Wednesday morning at 7.20 am from the state capital where he had spent a major chunk of his life during his decades long political career as a legislator, leader of the Congress party and chief minister.

At many places in the four districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha — through which Chandy’s remains passed on its journey to his stronghold of Kottayam — the bus had to be stopped for over an hour as people kept coming close to it to see their beloved leader.

As a result, Chandy’s final journey of around 150 kilometres, which normally would have been completed in three to four hours, was not over more than 24 hours after it began.

While thousands, including children of all ages, waited without sleep on the roadsides of the route taken by the specially modified low-floor bus covered in garlands and pictures of Chandy, many more — including political leaders from various parties — were waiting at the Thirunakkara Ground in Kottayam throughout the night.

A similar vigil was seen outside his home in Puthuppally too where not only locals but others who wanted to pay tribute to Chandy had turned up in large numbers since Wednesday morning.

After the people pay their last respects to him at Thirunakkara Ground, his remains would be taken to his home in Puthuppally and thereafter, would be buried in a specially prepared tomb adjacent to departed priests of his village church, bringing to an end an era in Kerala politics.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi would be attending Chandy’s funeral, according to a tweet by AICC general secretary K C Venugopal.

The burial would be a simple one without any state honours in accordance with the wish of the late Congress leader.

Chandy, who served as the chief minister of Kerala twice, breathed his last in a private hospital in Bengaluru in the early hours of Tuesday. His end came while undergoing treatment for cancer, party sources said. He was 79.

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