In a first of its kind, Wednesday dawned in Kottayam with posters against one of the most popular Congress leaders — Oommen Chandy, giving a clear indication that things do not augur well for him, at his home turf-Kottayam.
The posters asked questions against Chandy and described him as one who is going to finish off the party by supporting a few Congress leaders to take over as the new district party presidents, whose credentials are not that good.
Chandy who turns 78 in October, ever since he led the party to one of its worst poll reversals in 2016, has virtually kept him off the front line and was basically ensuring that the faction which he heads — the erstwhile Antony faction is intact.
But for five years (2016-21) he was seen only in the background and just ahead of the April 6 assembly polls, he was given a post to coordinate the election campaign besides selection of candidates.
But when votes were counted on May 2, incumbent Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, despite facing numerous scams created history by becoming the first Left government to retain office.
And this came as a severe blow to Chandy and with his health also taking a back seat and is no longer the man on the move always, literally running when he walked and always travelling the length and breadth of the state, he is today a shadow of what all know about him.
A media critic on condition of anonymity said if not for his failing health, Chandy would have been bouncing back and in the Congress party, all what matters is who is your godfather.
“Chandy in his long career has moulded numerous present day legislators and not to mention hundreds of other top level party leaders. The problem in politics is the moment a leader loses grip on the things, there will be an exodus towards a new power centre, whosoever is the new ‘leader’ and that’s what’s presently happening in Chandy’s case,” said the critic.
Incidentally Chandy has been winning non-stop from his home constituency Puthupally since 1970 and in his over five decades of facing the elections, it was perhaps the first time, this time, he had to fret and fume and literally at times during counting of votes he was left gasping, but finally emerged the winner with a margin of just 9,044 votes, the second least margin of victory in his 12 assembly elections.
In his first outing in 1970 he won with 7,288 votes, which is his lowest winning margin and his highest margin came in 2011 with 33,255 votes and was sworn in as the Chief Minister.
Another reason according to those in the know of things, for the present posters against Chandy is because there is a feeling that he is trying to set the stage for his son Chandy Oommen, who is being groomed to replace him, as and when he decides to leave electoral politics and given his health, it’s now becoming clear that Chandy is in his winter of his distinguished political career.