How Indira's Congress got its hand symbol

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Bangalore:  Eighty-year-old RK Rajarathnam vividly remembers the night of February 2, 1978 when Indira Gandhi, during an election campaign, came to his house in Madanpalle, Andhra Pradesh. She had just formed the new Congress (I) and the party was still without a symbol.

"AR Antulay and Buta Singh called me on the phone, kindly convey the message to Madam. Tomorrow by 10 am, if we don't give the choice, there won't be any symbol at all. I said Madam, hand will be easily recognisable. She just saw me like this. She immediately said, select hand, that's all," said RK Rajarathnam, Congress member.

Rajarathnam reminisces, "That house also gave power to all the people who visited my house that day. Madam Gandhi became the Prime Minister, PV Narasimha Rao became the PM, Chenna Reddy became Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Sharad Pawar became Chief Minister of Maharashtra."

The visit had its repercussions: The house was completely damaged by arsonists. "You are giving shelter to Indira Gandhi, you are going to suffer," Rajarathnam was told.

As the Congress celebrates 125 years of its existence, RK Rajarathnam is left with one last wish. That the hand that was born in his house over 32 years back will now handhold him in the twilight years of his life.

Rajarathnam says, "I was not recognised. Sonia Gandhi has to think of all these things."

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