Condolences pour in as Kerala grieves the demise of former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy

Cutting across party lines ,several political leaders mourned the demise of the senior Congress leader; three days of state mourning in Kerala.

BySreerag PS

Published Jul 18, 2023 | 1:09 PMUpdatedJul 18, 2023 | 2:19 PM

Senior Congress leaders paying homage to former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. (Supplied)

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan led the state in mourning the demise of former chief minister and senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy on Tuesday, 18 July.

The national flag was flown at half-mast across Kerala even as the government announced three days of state mourning.

Condolences started pouring in from leaders cutting across political lines after Oommen Chandy’s son, Chandy Oommen, announced the death in a brief Facebook post: “Appa has passed away.”

Oommen Chandy, 79, breathed his last at 4.25 am in Bengaluru, where he had been undergoing treatment.

Thousands of people started gathering at his residence in Puthupally after learning about their dear “Kunjoonju’s” demise in the morning.

Oommen Chandy represented the Puthupally Assembly constituency for 53 years, from 1970 till his death on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Senior Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, AK Antony, Jairam Ramesh, Karnataka Chief Minister Sidharamaiah, K Sudhakaran and VD Satheesan condoled his death.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, Akhilesh Yadav, chief ministers of Delhi and West Bengal Arvind Kejriwal, and Mamata Banerjee, too, expressed grief over the demise of the veteran Congress leader.

Obituary: A career marked by compassion; Congress’ ‘man of the masses’

Humble and dedicated leader: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Chandy was a humble and dedicated leader. He recalled his interactions with Chandy when both leaders were the chief ministers of their respective states.

“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.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan bid farewell to his predecessor and termed Chandy’s demise the end of a historic era.

“A historic chapter in Kerala politics came to an end with the demise of Oommen Chandy. His contributions to our state as an administrator, political leader and people’s representative have been exemplary. Joining the grief of family, friends, and supporters. Condolences,” Vijayan tweeted.

Governor Arif Mohammad Khan expressed grief at the passing of Chandy, saying in public life and governance, the veteran Congress leader “left an indelible mark”.

“He was a role model and I am confident, his life would be a great source of inspiration particularly to our young people who aspire to be in public life,” the Governor said in his condolence message

Khan further said Chandy, right from his younger days, took an interest in public affairs and always “stood for harmony and peace and resolution of conflicts in a democratic and amicable manner”.

“I am profoundly grieved by the sad demise of Shri Oommen Chandy, former Chief Minister, and a people’s leader nonpareil, with a record 53 years as Legislator from the same constituency Puthuppally. This showed the trust and confidence people had in his leadership. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and the people who loved him,” he said.

Chief Secretary V Venu declared a holiday for professional colleges and state public sector undertakings on Tuesday. Three days of state mourning will be observed throughout the state from 18 July.

“The national flag will be flown at half-mast on all government buildings throughout the state during the period,” the order said.

Related: Former Kerala CM Oommen Chandy passes away in Bengaluru

Congress mourns the loss of a legend

Responding to son Chandy Oommen’s tweet, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K Sudhakaran wrote: “The tale of the king who triumphed over the world with the power of love finds its poignant end.”

“Today, I am deeply saddened by the loss of a legend, Oommen Chandy. He touched the lives of countless individuals and his legacy will forever resonate within our souls. RIP!” he said.

In a tweet, the Congress’s Kerala unit said, “Extremely sad to bid farewell to our most beloved leader and former chief minister Shri Oommen Chandy. One of the most popular and dynamic leaders of Kerala, Chandy sir was loved across generations and sections of the population.”

The Congress family will miss his leadership and energy, it said.

“Deeply saddened by the passing of former Kerala chief minister and esteemed Congress leader Oommen Chandy,” AICC president Mallikarjun Khargesaid.

“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,” he said

Will miss him: Rahul Gandhi

“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,” Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet.

Congress general secretary-in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said Chandy was an extraordinary personality and a true mass leader.

“A man of great simplicity and unfailing courtesy, he was a 24/7 politician giving everything he had to the welfare of his constituents and of the people of Kerala,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi meeting Oommen Chandy’s family in Bengaluru (Supplied)

Ramesh said Chandy’s tenure as chief minister was notable for many achievements that were widely lauded and recognised by the United Nations as well.

“I was privileged to have known him for years and still recall our joint visits to various settlements in Attappadi 10 years ago.”

Tagging a tweet made a few months ago in which he spoke about visiting Chandy in the hospital, senior Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor said, “Sadly, it was not to be. The news of Oommen Chandy’s passing leaves millions bereft. My heart goes out to his family at this inexpressibly sad time. May his soul rest in peace. Om Shanti.”

Congress general secretary in charge of organisational affairs KC Venugopal expressed sadness over the death of Chandy.

“He was a visionary chief minister who leaves 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,” he tweeted.

“I join our entire state in mourning the loss of our guide. My heartfelt condolences to his family and supporters,” Venugopal added.

Funeral on Thursday

Several senior Congress leaders visited Oommen Chandy when his mortal remains were kept for public mourning in Bengaluru. Congress’s parliamentary party chairperson Sonia Gandhi along with senior congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, KC Venugopal, and Karnataka Chief Minister Sidharamiah paid homage to the veteran leader.

An air ambulance will bring the mortal remains to Thiruvananthapuram from Bengaluru on Tuesday afternoon, the party said. The Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly, Satheesan said the funeral services will be held at Puthuppally church near Kottayam on Thursday afternoon.

Addressing the media along with other senior leaders, he said the body will be kept at the state secretariat’s Durbar Hall for the public to pay tribute to the departed soul.

“The body will then be taken to the St George Cathedral near the secretariat where he used to pray. Later, the body will be kept at Indira Bhavan, for the party workers to pay homage,” Satheesan said.

Indira Bhavan at Thiruvananthapuram is the Congress headquarters in Kerala.

“We have made arrangements at the Thirunakkara Ground in Kottayam for the public to pay homage. In the evening, the body will be taken to his house at Puthuppally,” Satheesan said.

The funeral will be held at the Puthuppally church at 2 pm on Thursday, he added.

(With PTI inputs)