Former Kerala CM Oommen Chandy passes away at 79

Senior Congress leader Chandy, who had twice served as chief minister of Kerala, passed away at a private hospital in Bengaluru in the wee hours of Tuesday, 18 July

The late Oommen Chandy, who passed away on 18 July 2023 (photo courtesy @SudhakaranINC/Twitter)
The late Oommen Chandy, who passed away on 18 July 2023 (photo courtesy @SudhakaranINC/Twitter)

NH Digital

Senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy, who had twice served as chief minister of Kerala, passed away early on Tuesday, 17 July, at a private hospital in Bengaluru. He was 79 years old, and had been serving as an MLA for Kerala for an uninterrupted 53 years.

Chandy, who had been in poor health for quite some time, battling throat cancer, had been staying in Bengaluru since November 2022. He was, however, still active on behalf of the state and was seen walking side by side with Rahul Gandhi during his Bharat Jodo Yatra.

He was the longest-serving legislator in the Kerala Assembly. As a mark of respect, a two-day mourning is being observed in the state, and the state government has declared a public holiday on Tuesday.

Chandy had won his first election from his home constituency, Puthupally in Kottayam district, in 1970. At his passing, he was the sitting legislator from the same constituency.

Chandy's family said his mortal remains would be flown from Bengaluru to Kerala's capital Thiruvananthapuram for the funeral in his home parish of Puthupally on Wednesday, 19 July.

Until Chandy, the longest-serving Kerala legislator was K.M. Mani, another Congress veteran. It was only last year that Chandy surpassed Mani's record.

As condolences poured in, current Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan recalled the times when 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.

Chandy's last post on Twitter is from almost exactly a month ago, wishing Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on his birthday, on June 19.

Chandy's own long-time close aide and the country’s longest-serving defence minister A.K. Antony said this was by far the biggest loss to him.

“...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. He too reminisced of everything they shared since 1973, working closely together, and added Chandy was one "who can never be replaced".

With inputs from IANS

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