Congress in Kerala warms up as Chandy gets more active

Thiruvananthapuram: Two time former Congress Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, ever since getting voted out of office in the 2016 assembly elections, was in a sort of political hibernation, which left many wondering if the party’s most popular face in Kerala has taken his last bow from frontline politics.

For the past four years, many felt so, but the man who has seen everything in his five decades in full time politics, sprang a surprise by breaking his silence, when the world is going through the after effects of tackling the Covid pandemic and it appears to have evoked a sense of positivity among many Congressmen.

The 75-year-old is all set to enter records book when in October he will complete 50 years as a legislator representing his home town Puthupally in Kottayam district, a record which has been bettered in Kerala only by late K.M.Mani, who had been winning from Pala constituency since 1967, but passed away last year.

Soon after losing power, much to the surprise of many of his supporters, Chandy made his intentions very clear, that he will not be in the running for any post, either in the party or for the post of the Leader of Opposition.

For four long years, Chandy remained behind the curtains and was happy to be just an ordinary legislator and rarely intervened even in the assembly and many expressed their displeasure, on his studied silence.

During this time it was Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala who ran the show both inside and outside the assembly, but Chandy, though kept away from frontline politics, was doing what he does best and that was to keep the connect with his large followers and being a free bird, with no responsibilities, he was going up and down the entire state meeting people.

Things started to change following the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. Though he was holed up at his residence in the state capital, sensing his long years of being amidst people, he just wrote a few sentences on his Facebook page giving his official and personal telephone number, in the last week of March, asking people to contact him if they need any help.

Since that Facebook note came up, Chandy’s telephone has been continuously ringing and he and his staff are at the beck and call of thousands of people calling for help and assistance.

“There is not a single minute that he is sitting idle. All the time he is on the phone listening to the grievances of people who are desperate to return to Kerala from within the country and abroad. He speaks to all, takes down their number and after doing what he can, calls them back and tells what has been done,” said his close aide who did not wish to be identified.

When his informal call centre got huge response and many people who got help came calling on him, getting huge publicity, the writing on the wall became more clear, that his last hurrah is yet to come, which has lightened up the hearts of many of his supporters.

Taking time off from his call centre, Chandy started to hold press meetings and known for his jovial nature with his ever smiling face, unlike the tough exterior of his successor in office – Pinarayi Vijayan, the social media also is having a field day, with many expressing their desire, that it’s time for Chandy to get more active.

And the clinching answer came in one of his latest press meetings. When asked if he is going to be the one who will be leading the party as a chief ministerial candidate, when the state goes to polls in May next year. Chandy said, “at the moment Chennithala is doing a wonderful job as Leader of Opposition. However, the clincher came when he said, “on who the Chief Minister is going to be, is the decision of the party high command”.

With this statement, his supporters was in celebration mood and it peaked when AICC general secretary in-charge of organisation — K.C. Venugopal also said the same thing.

Since then the social media has seen a lot of activity and all eyes are on Chandy as it remains to be seen, given the present pandemic situation, if he will embark on a state-wide yatra to mark his 50 years as a legislator and if it happens, it can be rest assured, as sources close to him point out, way back in 1986, a hugely popular astrologer had then predicted, Chandy will be the Chief Minister on three occasions.

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