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    Sonia inaugurates Nehru Trophy Boat Race

    Snake Boat mass drill at Punnamada lake, the venue of the Nehru Trophy boat race, in Alappuzha on Saturday. Photo: H. Vibhu

    Dennis Marcus Mathew

    ALAPPUZHA: In a pulsating final that saw even chief guest Sonia Gandhi standing up and cheering the contestants, the ‘Champakulam’ ‘chundan’ rowed by the Kollam Jesus Boat Club inched past the ‘Payipad’ ‘chundan’ to lift the 57th Nehru Trophy Boat Race, the club’s second consecutive victory in the event.

    For the ‘Champakulam’, captained by Jiji Jacob Pollayil, which won this year’s ‘Champakulam Moolam Boat Race’ well, the final was a tough challenge to the dominance it has been showing in boat races since last year. The other three boats in the final, ‘Payipad’ rowed by 12-time winner Kainakary United Boat Club, ‘Sree Ganesh’ rowed by Kumarakom Boat Club and ‘Cheruthana’ rowed by Manchadikary Angel Boat Club, fought hard and made the contest easily one of the best witnessed in the history of the Nehru Trophy.

    Earlier, Ms. Gandhi inaugurated the race, stating that Kerala’s boat races were an example to the rest of the country by being instrumental in fostering communal harmony. Ms. Gandhi, the first member of the Nehru family to attend the event named after former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru after it began in 1952, said the race was “close to her family” and that it “meant so much” for her to be here.

    Kerala, Ms. Gandhi said, was a State of timeless traditions, with events like the Nehru Trophy acting as a link between the past and the present. Such events carried forward the joyful traditions of our forefathers in “the most enjoyable manner” and it was admirable that boat races were instrumental in uniting every community, religion and caste with people from all walks of life sitting together, rowing together and celebrating together.

    Ms. Gandhi was accompanied by Union Ministers Vayalar Ravi, Kumari Selja and Shashi Tharoor, AICC general secretary Mohsina Kidwai, Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy, KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala and State Ministers Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, K.P. Rajendran and P.K. Sreemathy. Sports Minister M. Vijayakumar hoisted the flag for the event, which was presided over by Coir and Cooperation Minister G. Sudhakaran.



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