The Congress in Kerala Sunday announced that a member from the family of the late Oommen Chandy would be its candidate for the ensuing by-election at Puthuppally, the Assembly segment represented by the Congress veteran for the last 53 years.
Chandy, 79, died last Tuesday after a prolonged battle against cancer. The state had bid an emotional farewell to the former chief minister, who was laid to rest at Puthuppally in Kottayam. Congress has begun informal deliberations on Chandy’s successor at Puthuppally.
Kerala Congress unit chief K Sudhakaran told reporters in Kochi that the candidate for the by-election would be from Chandy’s family. “The family can suggest the name. The family has to arrive at a decision on whether the son or the daughter should become the candidate. The party will attest the decision of the family. There will not be a candidate from outside the family,” he said.
Congress leader Cherian Philip, who had been closely associated with Chandy, backed his son in a Facebook post. “Chandy’s son Chandy Oommen has the eligibility to become his father’s successor. Junior Chandy has risen to the state and the national leadership of Youth Congress through hard work. He has imbibed Congress culture and his father’s style of functioning. He had been part of Bharat Jodo Yatra and had walked large parts of it bare feet.”
A law graduate, junior Chandy, 37, has been associated with the Congress since the time father Oommen was the CM from 2011 to 2016. As Youth Congress state secretary and now chairman of its outreach cell, he had campaigned at the grassroots level for the party in the recent elections, including Assembly and local polls. Chandy has also carved out a base for himself in the Puthuppally Assembly segment, where he had campaigned for his father.
Another face from the family is Chandy’s daughter Achu, who had been active in Kerala Students Union, the student wing of Congress in the state, during her college days. She had been a state general secretary of KSU, but took a back seat from politics after marriage.
CPI(M) has not officially decided on its candidate, but the party is likely in favour of young leader Jaick C Thomas, who had contested against Chandy in the last two Assembly elections. Jaick also originally hails from Puthuppally. Chandy’s family belongs to Christian Orthodox Church, while Thomas is from the rival Jacobite Church.
The by-election to Puthuppally assembly segment will be the second by-poll after the LDF government came into power for the second straight term in 2021. At the by-election at Thrikkakara, Congress retained its seat by fielding Uma Thomas, the widow of its then legislator and senior party leader P T Thomas.
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