Oommen Chandy, the Former Kerala CM Passes Away at 79
Oommen Chandy, the former Chief Minister of Kerala, passed away on 18th July 2023 at 4:25 AM in a private hospital in Bengaluru, where he was undergoing cancer treatment. He was 79 years old and had been suffering from Cancer for nearly two years. He went to Germany for cancer treatment in 2022. In February 2023, Chandy was airlifted to Bengaluru for cancer treatment. Chandy Oommen, son of Oomen Chandy, announced Oomen Chandy’s death through a Facebook post.
He has served as Kerala’s Chief Minister (CM) twice and has been a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Puthuppally constituency in Kottayam district since 1970. In other words, he served as MLA from Puthuppally for 53 years.
Oommen Chandy started his political involvement by joining the Kerala Student Union (KSU). He served as the president of the Union from 1967 to 1969.
Chandy’s formal political journey began in 1970 with his election to the Legislative Assembly from the Puthuppally constituency, which continued for an impressive 53 years. His popularity and unwavering support from the constituency showcased the trust the people had in him. Chandy’s political career included significant positions such as Labour Minister in the K. Karunakaran and A.K. Antony ministries. He also served as the Home Minister in the K. Karunakaran cabinet and held the Finance portfolio in the UDF ministry. Chandy’s leadership skills were evident when he became Chief Minister of Kerala twice, from 2004 to 2006 and from 2011 to 2016, leaving an indelible mark on the state’s governance. He also served as the Leader of the Opposition from 2006 to 2011.
In 2018, Rahul Gandhi appointed Chandy as the General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC). During the 2021 Kerala Legislative Assembly Election, the High Command of the Congress party set up a committee to oversee the campaigning of Congress State unit. Oomen Chandy headed the committee. Similarly, he also led the Congress Strategy Panel for Kerala Assembly polls in 2021.
A Unifying Figure
Chandy’s amiable personality and natural authority played a vital role in maintaining unity within the United Democratic Front (UDF) coalition, even during turbulent periods. Despite facing political scandals and anti-government protests, such as the solar scandal and bar bribery cases, Chandy displayed unwavering composure and steered his government through challenging crises.
An Empathetic Leader
Chandy’s compassionate approach to governance was evident throughout his career. As Labour Minister in the 1980s, he extended unemployment allowances to educated jobless youth, showcasing his concern for the welfare of the people. During his mass contact program, Chandy personally attended to the grievances of thousands of individuals, demonstrating his commitment to immediate relief and responsiveness.
Contributions of Oommen Chandy
During his tenure as Chief Minister, Chandy initiated several significant infrastructure projects, including the Vizhinjam port, metro rail, Sabarimala master plan, and Kannur airport. His emphasis on fast-tracking development earned him the phrase “fast and far,” signifying his determination to expedite Kerala’s progress.
During the second term as CM, Oomen Chandy promised delivery of the Kochi Metro Rail project for public use in 1095 days which was delivered on the 985th day. Kochi Metro is still considered to be the fastest-completed metro rail project in India.
Challenges and Reflective Moments
While Chandy’s leadership showed promise, his second term as CM faced negative publicity due to scandals. Despite these challenges, he remained resilient and emerged unscathed from the trials by fire. Chandy’s optimism about fulfilling his destiny as an inspiring and transformative Chief Minister remained with him.
Personal Life and Legacy
Chandy survived by his wife, Mariamma Oommen, and their children, Achu Oommen, Maria Oommen, and Chandy Oommen. His contributions to the Congress party and Kerala politics have left a lasting impact. Leaders across party lines, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan, have expressed their condolences over his passing.