Oommen Chandy family member to replace him as Puthuppally candidate, says KPCC chief Sudhakaran; clarifies statement

Amidst all the speculation, Chandy's daughter Achu Oommen made it clear that she was not interested in entering active politics.


Published Jul 24, 2023 | 12:52 PM Updated Jul 24, 2023 | 12:52 PM

Oommen Chandy

After speculation began on who would replace late Congress stalwart Oommen Chandy as the party candidate from the Puthuppally constituency he represented for 53 years, KPCC (Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee) chief K Sudhakaran made it clear it would be someone from the veteran leader’s family.

In a statement made later on Sunday, 23 July, Sudhakaran said he never meant that only a member of Chandy’s family would become the party candidate for the Puthuppally Assembly constituency.

Sudhakaran, also the Kannur MP, said he only meant that Chandy’s family members would also be considered and consulted during the discussions on who should be the Congress candidate from the constituency.

“No discussions have been held by the party on that subject yet,” he added.

Initially, Sudhakaran was seen telling reporters in Kochi that unofficially discussions have begun on who should be the candidate, and officially it would start a couple of days later.

However, there was no doubt that it would be someone from Chandy’s family, he said.

At the same time, the KPCC chief also said that the decision on who it should be would be decided by the family and not the party.

Related: Kerala bids tearful farewell as Oommen Chandy is laid to rest

‘Not interested in active politics’

Amidst all the speculation, Chandy’s daughter Achu Oommen made it clear that she was not interested in entering active politics.

“I lived in the shade of my father. I want to live on as the daughter of Oommen Chandy. Have no interest in entering active politics. After dad, the only other politician in the family is Chandy Oommen,” she told reporters in Kottayam.

She also said the subject of who should replace her father in the Assembly constituency was “premature” and ought to have been avoided for the time being.

“I did not ever think this topic would crop up so fast after dad’s death. It is too early for such talk. To be honest, this was a subject which should have been avoided for now,” she said.

Achu said she was responding on the issue now only due to the various statements and social media posts regarding who would succeed Chandy.

She said the sole intention behind her response was to make it clear that she does not want to enter active politics and added that she was nobody to decide who should succeed her father.

“That is for the Congress party to decide,” she said.

Obituary: A ‘man of the masses’ with a career marked by compassion

Chandy Oommen as the ‘heir’

The entire discussion and speculation was kicked off by Congress leader Cherian Philip who, in a social media post, pushed for Chandy’s son — Chandy Oommen — to be the “heir” to the position vacated by the late Congress leader.

Philip, in a Facebook post, said that Chandy Oommen was qualified in every way to replace the late Congress leader as he understood the Congress culture, how his father worked, and became the leader of the Youth Congress at the national and state level through his own hard work and ability.

He also said that all three children of Chandy were politically aware and capable of playing a significant role in the party and that his two daughters — Achu and Maria — would be welcomed into the party if they chose to enter politics.

Philip also said that Chandy was not in favour of his children being part of active politics, and was of the view that one member from the family was enough.

The social media post was not welcomed by the KPCC chief, who said, “That was not correct on his (Philip) part. I have spoken to him about it and told him so.”

‘LDF should refrain from contesting in Puthuppally’

Sudhakaran also said that if the ruling LDF in Kerala has any respect for Chandy, who died in Bengaluru on 18 July, they should refrain from contesting for the Puthuppally constituency seat.

“We (Congress) do not need to make such a request. They (LDF) should do it on their own if they have any respect for Oommen Chandy,” he said.

The contention or demand by the KPCC chief was rejected by LDF convener EP Jayaran who told media that the Congress has never taken such a stand in the past.

Jayarajan also said that elections were not about individuals, they were a political norm, and therefore, he was rejecting the demand of the KPCC chief.

‘No arguments regarding selection’

Earlier in the day, Congress leader and MP K Muraleedharan said, in Kozhikode, that once a by-election is announced for the Puthuppally seat, the party’s candidate would be decided immediately and there would be no arguments or disputes regarding the selection.

On being asked by scribes whether the candidate would be a member of Chandy’s family as was being suggested by many Congress workers, Muraleedharan said the party will take everything into account while making its decision.

PK Kunhalikutty, the national general secretary of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), too, said that there would be no problems in deciding a candidate for the by-election.

“Puthuppally and Kerala deserve continuity of the same standards set by Oommen Chandy. The Congress party will decide who should represent the constituency, and there will be no issues with that decision. There will be no dispute over the candidate selected by the party,” he said.

Oommen Chandy, who served as the chief minister of Kerala twice, breathed his last in a private hospital in Bengaluru on 18 July. His end came while undergoing treatment for cancer, party sources said. He was 79.

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