KOCHI: Though known as a valiant warrior of the ‘A’ group in Congress under former chief minister A K Antony for long in his political career, PT Thomas was among the party leaders who later stayed away from factional politics in the interest of the party.
He had even spearheaded the open battle against the then chief minister and senior leader K Karunakaran during the 1990s. ‘PT’, as he was fondly called in the party circles, was instrumental in bringing back Antony to the chief minister’s post after the 2001 assembly elections.
At the same time, he was the first legislator to sign on the memorandum submitted by Congress leaders to party chief Sonia Gandhi demanding a change in leadership following the UDF’s 2004 Lok Sabha poll debacle. Subsequently, Antony stepped down and Oommen Chandy was sworn in the CM.
PT remained in the hearts of the party rank and file and was appointed Idukki district Congress president. He has then entrusted with the task of wresting the Idukki Lok Sabha seat in 2009 which he won by a margin of 74,000 votes. However, he was denied the seat in the 2014 general elections following his strong stand in favour of the Madhav Gadgil report on the Western Ghats. His name was dropped from the candidate list following stiff opposition from the Church. Gradually, he came out of the ‘A’ group which was later headed by Oommen Chandy.
According to party leaders, PT had lost many an opportunity to climb the political ladder in his early years due to his fight against Karunakaran. “PT lost many opportunities because of his stance on many issues. He always stood for what he thought was right. He was not worried about losing any post due to his adamant stand,” Antony recalled, adding that no one could fill the void left behind by PT in the current political scenario.
Former CM Chandy also said PT had always fought for the ideologies he believed in. For a while in the past, he had no allegiance to any of the party factions but he was fielded in the Thrikkakara assembly seat replacing sitting MLA Benny Behanan, who is also a known ‘A’ group leader, in 2016 assembly elections.
There were reports that then Congress state V M Sudheeran took the initiative to give the seat to PT as he had always stood with the party national leadership’s stand even on the Gadgil report issue. Thomas was appointed the Congress state working president recently considering his services to the party by going beyond group interests.