Former Union Minister and six-term member of Parliament from erstwhile Muvattupuzha constituency P C Thomas, who is the chairman of the Kerala Congress (P C Thomas faction) and a candidate of the NDA from Kottayam Lok Sabha seat, has said he will win the seat for sure. In an interview to Express special correspondent Arun Lakshman, Thomas says his work as an MP in the past would give him a clear edge this time.
Q. You won the Muvattupuzha Lok Sabha constituency in 2004 as an NDA candidate and turned out to be a giant killer. Do you expect a repeat in Kottayam in the 2019 general elections?
A. I am fully confident of a victory from Kottayam seat which has several Assembly constituencies of the erstwhile Muvattupuzha constituency which I had represented six terms from 1989 onwards. I am familiar to the people of the constituency.
The work I had done as an MP for the six terms speaks for itself and I used to raise the issues of the people of the constituency in the House and had moved several private bills for the development of the constituency. These factors, coupled with the powerful persona of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will give me a clear edge and I expect to repeat the Muvattupuzha victory in Kottayam.
Q. Rubber is a main crop in the Kottayam constituency and as a political leader what have you done for the suffering rubber farmers?
A. Rubber is now an agricultural crop. I had relentlessly worked for converting rubber from a commercial cash crop to an agriculture crop. I got a positive order from the High Court of Kerala on an appeal filed by me regarding considering rubber as an agriculture crop. I met Union Minister of Commerce Suresh Prabhu several times and a new national rubber policy was formulated in which rubber is being earmarked as an agricultural crop.
In the national policy framework, minimum support price is also guaranteed in the case of a fall in price. I am glad to say it was on my initiative that this took place.
Q. You were actively involved in the Sabari rail project and now it is almost on track. Your comments on this.
A. The Sabari rail project was first initiated by me and I had relentlessly pursued this in Parliament. My idea was to have the line drawn up to Sabarimala and a second line through Punalur to Thiruvananthapuram. This would have brought major changes in the areas hitherto not connected by a rail network. Anyhow, this has taken place and now, at least in one or two stretches, almost all the work is over except for laying the rail lines. Sabari project taking off will be a major initiative for the people of these areas spread across Kottayam constituency.
Q. As Union Minister, you had represented the Government of India for the beatification ceremony of Mother Teresa in the Vatican. Are you doing anything concrete for her memory?
A. I have given a petition to the Centre for implementing the Mother Teresa National Service Scheme across the country under government patronage. I feel this will be a great tribute for the selfless soul who served millions. When I put this across to the top leadership of the government, everyone was appreciating this initiative.
I had taken steps as MP and Union Minister to issue a coin, commemorating Sree Narayana Guru. I had also called upon the government and initiated several discussions to give the name of NSS founder and stalwart Mannath Padmanabhan to a Central University. In Kerala, Muslim girls were not getting the Moulana Azad scholarship and I intervened in the matter and provided scholarships to them.
Q. The LDF candidate is CPM district secretary V N Vasavan and the UDF candidate is Thomas Chazhikadan, who is also popular. How are you going to emerge in this fight to the top?
A. More than the opposite candidates, people gauge you by what you are and what you have done for the constituency and for the people. These are the two important factors which will be taken into consideration in any election and as a political leader, I am always with the people of the constituency.
I don’t have any problem in stating confidently that I will be the winner or rather I can repeat the 2004 victory of Muvattupuzha emphatically.