Congress’ most popular Kerala leader, two-time former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, on Monday had a modest 79th birthday celebration in the company of his family and his party supporters.
Chandy, for a while has been ailing on account of cancer in the throat and as a result of that his voice is affected and is hardly audible. but he is always seen waving and smiling to his supporters, whenever they come to meet him in his constituency or at railway stations or at the airports.
Last week a video alleging that his family members were not giving him the correct medical attention and instead were resorting to the practice of ‘faith healing’ went viral. This was strongly rebutted by his son, Chandy Oommen, who was part of the Bharat Jodo Yatra and has taken leave from it.
Chandy, presently staying in Kochi on Monday morning, did not want to disappoint his anxious supporters who had come in large numbers to wish him.
“After 1984, I did not engage in any sort of celebrations on my birthday. Today also the same thing happened. I have had a problem with my throat since 2015 and thrice I lost my voice, but following treatments, I was able to get back my voice, but this time it has not happened. Hence, I am going to Germany and am waiting for an appointment at the hospital. We will leave anytime after knowing about the date of appointment. Apart from my voice, I have no other health problems,” said a beaming Chandy, known for his characteristic smile, but his voice was hardly audible.
Incidentally, it was on this day in 1984 Indira Gandhi passed away, and since then he has not cut cakes or taken part in his birthday celebrations.
Incidentally Chandy in October with the completion of 18,728 days in the Legislative Assembly, emerged as the longest serving MLA in Kerala edging out late K.M. Mani, who passed away in 2019.
Both Mani and Chandy have never lost their sitting seats after they started to contest the polls.
While Mani represented the Pala seat since 1967, Chandy began from 1970 to represent the Puthuppally constituency, both of which are in Kottayam district.
Chandy, has won every election from 1970 and is now into his 12th successive term and by far he is one of the most popular active politicians in the state.
Due to his pleasing manners, he continues to draw huge crowds wherever he goes.
His long time party colleague and senior legislator Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said Chandy “was of a special breed and that’s the way he has carried himself”.
“He has friends cutting across all age groups and the highlight is that even small kids address him, when they see him as Oommen Chandy,” said Radhakrishnan.
Even as he ails, his popularity has only gone up as was seen when he came to the State Secretariat in August.
Generally, former chief ministers rarely come to the Secretariat, but Chandy when he was invited for a meeting of all legislators from Kottayam district, he said he will definitely be present to discuss the issues.
That day, traffic near the Secretariat was diverted due to a series of protests and Chandy got down from his car and was received by a few office-bearers of the Congress-backed Secretariat employees and he started to walk towards the meeting place which was far.
Seeing Chandy walk, people on the roads also joined him and by the time he reached the office entrance, it was a massive crowd, most of them had no clue what was happening, but all they knew was they were following Chandy.