Kottayam (Kerala), Sep 18 : It was a day that all present-day politicians would dream for, but was a reality for one of Kerala’s most popular leaders – Congress veteran Oommen Chandy as he was on Thursday honoured for completing 50 years as a legislator on the trot from the same constituency – Puthupally.
In view of Covid restrictions, the event took place at a hall here where 50 leading lights from a varied cross-section of Kerala society, including top politicians, and religious leaders among others, were present.
The two-time Kerala CM began his political career as a legislator after the 1970 Assembly polls. Then 26, Chandy won his very first electoral battle and has been repeating the poll results in successive Assembly polls ever since.
Had it not been for Covid, this would have turned out to be a function that would have gone down as the most enviable one for any politician.
To mark the event, a cake decorated in the Congress tricolour was cut by his grandson and he placed a piece of it into Chandy’s mouth, to sustained applause.
The 76-year-old was paid glowing tributes for his landmark achievement and among those who congratulated him include Congress President Sonia Gandhi, former President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and former Defence Minister A.K. Antony.
The message of Sonia Gandhi, presently in the US for treatment, was read out by senior legislator K.C. Joseph.
“My warmest felicitation to Oommen Chandy for his extraordinary achievement of completing 50 years. He excelled in all the responsibilities that he took up. He is one of the most cherished persons in the Congress party and I wish him many more years of success,” read her message.
Rahul Gandhi termed Chandy as the true leader of Kerala.
“He feels the pain of the people and his doors are always open and is the most accessible leader besides being the most committed person. While on a campaign in Andhra Pradesh, after finishing our election campaign as we entered the helicopter, I noticed his leg had a big cut and it was bleeding heavily. For him, it did not matter, as he was busy engaged in the work that he was assigned… such is his commitment,” said Rahul Gandhi, whose televised felicitations was aired.
Manmohan Singh recalled Chandy as a sincere, honest, and simple person.
Leader of Opposition and Congress veteran Ramesh Chennithala said this is a function which all politicans can only dream and this event will never be there for any other politician.
CPI-M state Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said Chandy is one who always takes an anti-CPI-M position, but on a personal level, he always helps their legislators.
CPI state Secretary Kanam Rajendran described Chandy as a gentleman politician and his biggest contribution to politics in Kerala is bringing in a social commitment, which all present-day legislators follow.
Cardinal George Alencherry said Chandy is one who would be in the hearts of many not just here, but across the country and abroad and this is because of his work that he has done all these five decades.
Sukumaran Nair, who heads the powerful Nair Service Society, wished Chandy the best and expected that he will lead Kerala for a third time.
Though Chandy has completed 50 years as a legislator, an unmatched record by any Congressman, he still has to surpass the late K.M. Mani’s record. The supremo of Kerala Congress-Mani, who passed away last year, has a better record, representing Pala in Kottayam district since 1967 to remain a legislator for 52 years.