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Home > News > PTI

Oomen Chandy: Shrewd but widely admired politician

August 31, 2004 15:52 IST

A shrewd but widely admired politician, 61-year-old Oommen Chandy's elevation as chief minister marks a new era in the Congress politics in Kerala, which had for long centred round K Karunakaran and A K Antony.

For Chandy, a trusted lieutenant of Antony, it has been a long journey to the centre-stage after he plunged into active politics as a student activist in the 1960s.

A pioneer of the student movement, Chandy started his career through the Kerala Students Union and went on to become its president. In subsequent years, he also served as the state president of the Youth Congress and held senior positions in the state Congress unit.

Despite being the architect of the UDF's impressive win in the 2001 assembly polls, Chandy chose to stay out of the cabinet. He was, however, made the convener of the UDF.

Reputed as an organisational man, Chandy has endeared himself to the party's rank and file by his simple lifestyle and unsullied reputation.

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He holds a record of sorts by getting elected to the state assembly from his home constituency of Puthupally unfailingly since 1970, seen by many as the strongest proof of his popularity and acceptance to all sections. He had held important portfolios in previous United Democratic Front ministries, including home and finance.

A source of strength for the Antony group in the Congress for decades, Chandy had led many a factional battle for his mentor and skillfully thwarted grave threats posed by adversaries from within and outside the party.

Task Before Chandy

Among the tasks that await Chandy are those of revitalising the state's economy and the UDF coalition. The eight-party ruling coalition is yet to recover from the setback it received in the Lok Sabha polls three months back.

The fragile economy, crippled by severe drought and devastating floods, has to be nursed back to health by imaginative management of the state's limited resources.

Farmers have been unable to weighed down by debt while the educational sector is facing unrest owing to an aggressive anti-privatisation agitation launched by pro-opposition student outfits.

An immediate job at hand is to secure adequate central assistance to tackle the loss suffered on account of natural calamities. Also, many developmental proposals that are awaiting central clearance need tireless follow-up action.

In the 20 months that he has, Chandy will have to unite all sections of the Congress and the UDF and prepare them for a tough battle with a resurgent Left Democratic Front before the local body polls due in an year, seen as the dress rehearsal for the assembly polls in 2006.

More reports from Kerala
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