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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Former Kerala CM and senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy dead


Former Kerala Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy died following prolonged illness at Chinmaya Hospital in Bengaluru early on Tuesday, his family said.

Oommen Chandy, 80, is survived by his wife Mariamma Ummen, daughters Achu Oommen and Maria Oommen and son Chandy Oommen.

Chandy Ommen confirmed his father’s demise in a Facebook post, “Appa has passed away.” The veteran leader was undergoing medical treatment in Bengaluru for the last several months, and breathed his last at 4-25 AM on Tuesday.

The two-time Congress Chief Minister completed 50 years as a MLA and was the party’s most popular face in Kerala, representing his home town Puthupally in Kottayam district without a break since 1970.

He also served as Congress Working Committee (CWC) member and All India Congress Committee (AICC) Incharge of Andhra Pradesh.

The Kerala government has declared a three-day state mourning and a holiday on Tuesday as a mark of respect to the departed leader.

In a message, Kerala Chief Secretary Dr V Venu said, “All state government offices, educational institutions including professional colleges, state public sector undertakings, statutory bodies, autonomous institutions and all institutions coming under the purview of Negotiable Instruments Act, throughout the State, shall remain closed on Tuesday.”

A seasoned administrator and skilful politician, Chandy handled a great variety of responsibilities during a over half a century old political career, that had its share of ups and downs.

Chandy was the unit president of KSU (Kerala Students Union) at St George High School, Puthupally, and the state President of the organisation during 1967-69. He was elected as the president of the State Youth Congress in 1970.

Chandy completed his pre-university course from CMS College, Kottayam, and did BA in Economics from St Berchmans College, Changanassery. He took a bachelor’s degree in law (LLB) from Government Law College, Ernakulam.

He was the Minister for Labour from April 11, 1977 to April 25, 1977 in the first K. Karunakaran Ministry and continued holding the same portfolio in the succeeding first AK Antony Ministry till October 27, 1978. He was given the Home portfolio in the second K Karunakaran Ministry from December 28, 1981 to March 17, 1982.

Again, he was sworn in as a minister in the fourth K Karunakaran Ministry on July 2, 1991. He was in-charge of the Finance Portfolio, till his resignation from the cabinet on June 22, 1994 due to differences with the Chief Minister.

In 2004, following the resignation of AK Antony as Chief Minister following the party’s poor performance in Lok Sabha elections and factional politics, Chandy became his successor for a short duration (August 2004 to May 2006).

Chandy was the Leader of the Opposition in the 12th Kerala Legislative Assembly. Under his leadership, the Congress-headed United Democratic Front (UDF) marked victories in Lok Sabha Election 2009, gaining 16 out of 20 parliament constituencies in Kerala, and the local body polls in 2010. In the history of Kerala politics, it’s the first time that the UDF got an upper hand in local body elections.

UDF secured a slender margin in the 2011 assembly election, and Chandy became the Chief Minister for the second time. Congress-led UDF candidates won 72 seats against 68 seats grabbed by the Left Democratic Front (LDF).

In 2021, Chandy won the Assembly poll from Puthupally by defeating CPI-M’s Jaick C Thomas by over 9,000 votes. That was his 12th consecutive win from the seat, and he remained a legislator till the end.

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