THIRUVANANTHAPURAM — Senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy, who served as Chief Minister of Kerala twice, passed away at a private hospital in Bengaluru in the wee hours of Tuesday.
Chandy, 79, had not been keeping well for quite some time and was staying in Bengaluru since November last year. He was ailing from throat cancer.
As a mark of respect, the Kerala government has declared a public holiday on Tuesday. Also, a two-day mourning will be observed in the state.
Chandy will go down in the history of Kerala Assembly records as the longest-serving legislator in the state.
He won his first election in 1970 from his home constituency Puthupally in Kottayam district. When he passed away, he was the sitting legislator from the same constituency and was an MLA for an uninterrupted 53 years.
His body, according to his family, will be flown from Bengaluru later in the day to state capital Thiruvananthapuram and the funeral is being planned to be held at his home parish at Puthupally on Wednesday.
It was last year, he edged out K.M.Mani – the Kerala Congress veteran – in terms of the number of years being a legislator.
Condolences started to pour in with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan recalled his association with Chandy as they both made their debut in the Kerala Assembly in 1970. “We started our political journey together through student politics and continued a very long way. Chandy was always with the people and it’s tough to say goodbye to him,” said Vijayan.
His long-time close aide and the country’s longest-serving Defence Minister A.K.Antony said the loss of Chandy is by far the biggest loss to him and to his family. “…He will go down as the most popular politician in Kerala as even when on his deathbed, his only thinking was how to help people. Kerala will miss Chandy very badly,” Antony said, adding that right from 1973, they used to share everything and Chandy was the one who can never be replaced.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death of former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and described him as a humble and dedicated leader.
“In the passing away of Shri Oommen Chandy Ji, we have lost a humble and dedicated leader who devoted his life to public service and worked towards the progress of Kerala. I recall my various interactions with him, particularly when we both served as Chief Ministers of our respective states, and later when I moved to Delhi. My thoughts are with his family and supporters in this sorrowful hour. May his soul rest in peace,” Modi tweeted.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also condoled the death of former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, saying he was a leader of high esteem who was respected by everybody irrespective of party lines as well as a mass leader and distinguished administrator who devoted his whole life to the service of people.
Sonia, Rahul and other senior leaders pay last respects to Oommen Chandy
Former Congress Presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi paid last respects to Kerala’s former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Tuesday in Bengaluru.
After paying respects, Rahul Gandhi consoled the family members of the late senior Congress leader.
The body was kept at the residence of former minister T. John and later it will be taken to Kerala.
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and cabinet ministers also paid their respects to the mortal remains of Oommen Chandy.
“Oommen Chandy ji was an exemplary grassroots Congress leader. He will be remembered for his lifelong service to the people of Kerala. We will miss him dearly. Much love and condolences to all his loved ones,” stated Rahul Gandhi.
Kharge stated, “My humble tribute to the stalwart Oommen Chandy, Former Kerala Chief Minister and a staunch Congressman who stood tall as a leader of the masses. His unwavering commitment and visionary leadership left an indelible mark on Kerala’s progress and the nation’s political landscape. He will be remembered for his dedication and service to the people. Heartfelt condolences to the family and supporters.”
Party General Secretary K.C. Venugopal stated that he was deeply saddened by the passing away of Oommen Chandy. “He was a visionary CM who left behind a rich legacy of pro-people governance. Under his towering leadership, Kerala reached great heights and he transformed the state through his reformist agenda. His passing is a big loss for the Congress Party and the people of Kerala. I join our entire state in mourning the loss of our guide. My heartfelt condolences to his family and supporters,” he said. — IANS