KOCHI: When he was alive and in his pink of health, a Church-backed collective named Committee for Protection of High Ranges conducted his ‘funeral service’ in protest against his support for the Gadgil Committee report, which recommended protection of Western Ghats.
But before he passed away on Wednesday, PT Thomas, 71 — who lost his battle to pancreatic cancer at CMC Vellore, where he was undergoing treatment for some weeks — ensured there wouldn’t be any more religious funeral service nor laying of wreaths on his body, through his last wishes conveyed to the dear and near. The four-time MLA and state Congress working president breathed his last at 10.15am.
PT, as he is known among his friends and party colleagues, was a politician different in every way. One who studied issues in detail before commenting on them, Thomas was also a dedicated legislator and parliamentarian who took unrelenting stance on environmental issues, or on the need to protect the fragile ecosystem.
A native of Parathodu in Idukki, he took his first steps in politics when he was still in school, participating in the agitation as a KSU member for the formation of Idukki district. He became a college councillor at Newman College, Thodupuzha and shot into spotlight as a firebrand leader at Maharaja’s College, and later at the Government Law College, Ernakulam — a city which helped him cultivate friends who stood by him through the thick and thin.
Thomas paid a heavy price for his uncompromising stand on the Gadgil Committee report when Congress denied him the Idukki seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections despite him winning from there in 2009 by 74,000 votes. Thomas’ position upset Idukki diocese of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, and with the Idukki Bishop openly opposing his candidature, Congress was forced to drop him.
While he served as a member of parliament from Idukki (2009-2014), Thomas was also elected an MLA from Thodupuzha (1991-96 and 2001-2006). He is the sitting MLA from Thrikkakara, from where he won in 2016 and 2021.
‘He was a fine human being’
“He was a fine human being, firm on his principles, his love for nature and for democracy. He was the foremost politician of Kerala not to be swayed by the disinformation campaign launched by vested interest against the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel report,” said Gadgil in his condolence message.
He is survived by wife Uma Thomas, and two sons. The body will be placed at Ernakulam Town Hall for the public to pay homage from 8.30am to 1.30pm, and later at Thrikkakara Community Hall from 1.30pm to 4.30pm. The cremation will be held at Ravipuram crematorium at 5.30pm.
Mentor of new faces
T’Puram: P T Thomas who had approached legislative business in all seriousness was a teacher to many of the new Congress MLAs. Ahead of the question hour in the Legislative Assembly, Thomas would
be seen giving last-minute instructions to first-time MLAs like T Siddique. This way when the adjournment motion is presented by the Opposition, Congress MLAs could target the LDF Government on the loopholes as seen in the Muttil tree felling case and also against the Kitex. If PT was raising an issue on the floor of the assembly, Opposition Leader V D Satheesan knows that he can rest easy as the ruling front would be given a hard time.
P T Thomas 1950-2021
MLA: 1991-96, 2001-06 (Thodupuzha), 2016-21 (Thrikkakara)
MP: 2009-14 (Idukki)
Place no wreath on me, play Chandrakalabham... softly: PT’s last wish