The bus carrying the mortal remains of former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had begun its journey from Thiruvananthapuram towards his home town in Puthuppally at 7 am on Wednesday, July 19. Four hours later, the funeral procession was still in Thiruvananthapuram. The bus moved inch by inch as people of all ages thronged the wayside to get a last glimpse of the once formidable politician and two-time Chief Minister of Kerala. Slogans of young Congressmen rose on the roads for one of the party's most revered leaders, who died at the age of 79 on Tuesday, July 18.
"Oommen Chandy will not die. He will live in us," shouted the voices, louder than the sounds of the road. Only 12 kilometers were covered by the bus in four hours, and it may be 11 pm by the time it reaches Puthuppally in Kottayam, Chandy's hometown and winning constituency for the past 53 years.
Chandy's mortal remains is carried in a low floor bus of the KSRTC, garlanded and carrying his smiling image, tailed by a few escort vehicles including police jeeps, all moving at a snail's pace to let the people gathered on the roadsides pay their last respects through the open windows. It seemed like an acknowledgment of the reception that commoners always got at his home or official residence.
People across political affiliations gathered on the streets on Wednesday morning. Many took their spots on house and building terraces, in front of shops and hotels. At several places school children were seen lining up on the road and bidding him goodbye.
It was a similar scene on Tuesday afternoon when Chandy's body was taken from the Thiruvananthapuram airport to his house in Jagathy. It took nearly four hours to cover the less than eight kilometres, with people of Thiruvananthapuram gathering outside their homes and along the streets to see the leader, known for his love for the masses.
The last time such a crowd was witnessed on the streets was when Communist leader and former Chief Minister EK Nayanar passed away in 2004, and his body was taken from Thiruvananthapuram to Kannur. People had braved the overnight rains to line the roads along the 600 km journey.