Chandy, a major player in building Congress in Kerala

A central player of the Congress in Kerala for over four decades, 67-year-old Oommen Chandy has played a major role in building the party as a mass force capable of taking on the CPI(M).

Last Updated: May 15, 2011, 20:38 PM IST

Thiruvananthapuram: A central player of the
Congress in Kerala for over four decades, 67-year-old Oommen
Chandy has played a major role in building the party as a mass
force capable of taking on the CPI(M).

Chandy moved to the key spot of United Democratic Front,
left vacant by late K Karunakaran and AK Antony when he was
chosen Chief Minister for an interim term in 2004-06. He led
the coalition as Opposition leader after the UDF`s defeat in
2006, enjoying the confidence of all components.

His first tenure as chief minister was from September 2004
to May 2006 after AK Antony resigned owning moral
responsibility for the Congress rout in the 2004 Lok Sabha
polls.

Though KPCC President Ramesh Chennithala`s entry in this
poll initially sent signals he would throw in his hat in the
race, he today opted out, paving the way for Chandy`s
unanimous choice for the tough job of leading the UDF
ministry, which has only a two-seat margin in a 140-member
house.

A leader who always draws energy by being in the midst of
party workers and people, Chandy was elected to the Assembly
from his home segment Puthupally for the 10th time in a row.

Since the 1970s, he has been a frontline soldier of the
anti-Karunakaran axis in Congress and worked hard to build the
party as a mass political force side-by-side his seniors AK
Antony and Vayalar Ravi, drawing inspiration from populist
policies initiated by late premier Indira Gandhi after 1969
split in the Congress.

This upsurge of Congress in 1970s made the party a mighty
force in Kerala, capable of effectively taking on the
cadre-based CPI(M) and the UDF coalition a formidable
alternative that returned to power every five years.

Born on October 31, 1943 to Karottu Vallakkalil-KO Chandy
and Baby, Chandy displayed leadership skills since his school
days as a participant of the children’s forum Balajana Sakhyam
floated by leading newspaper house Malayala Manorama.

He ventured into campus politics as an activist of the
Congress’s student wing KSU in his high school days. Later he
became its state president and sailed into Youth Congress and
the KPCC leadership, choosing a whole time political career
though he is a law graduate.

Despite being a major player and serving as minister in
several UDF governments, Chandy had to wait till 2004 to
emerge as Chief Minister following the resignation of AK
Antony owning moral responsibility for the combine’s
near-washout in 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

PTI