Leader of masses - Oommen Chandy

A two-time chief minister, Chandy was the longest-serving MLA in the Kerala assembly. Known as the man of masses, he shared close relations with leaders irrespective of political affiliations.
Congress leader Oommen Chandy with supporters on his arrival at Puthuppally from New Delhi. (Photo | Express)
Congress leader Oommen Chandy with supporters on his arrival at Puthuppally from New Delhi. (Photo | Express)

KOTTAYAM: Karottu Vallakalil Oommen Chandy, fondly called as ‘Kunjoonju’ was born on October 31, 1943 as the second son of K O Chandy and Baby Chandy, who belonged to an Orthodox Syrian Christian family at Kumarakom in Kottayam.

Chandy completed his studies at Puthuppally MD School, St George High school, CMS College Kottayam,
SB College Changanassery and Law College, Ernakulam. Following the footsteps of his grandfather V J Oommen, who was a State Congress activist and a member of the Sreemoolam Prajasabha, Chandy stepped into social activities through Akhila Kerala Balajana Sakhyam and the Kerala Students Union (KSU), the students’ wing of the Congress.

A K Antony was a general secretary of KSU, while Chandy was its state president.  Chandy first entered the Legislative Assembly in 1970 when he was the State vice president of the Youth Congress. Chandy had also led trade union movement during 1970s and thus he became a Labour Minister in the first K Karunakaran Ministry in 1977 and continued to hold the same portfolio in the succeeding A K Antony-led Ministry in the same year. Chandy married Mariamma, daughter of Abraham - Achamma couple of Koothattil house Karuvatta.

During his tenure as Labour Minister, Chandy introduced unemployment wages for the first time in the country. While serving as the Home Minister in the second K Karunakaran Ministry in 1981, Chandy revised the uniform of the police. In June 1991, Chandy became Finance Minister in the K Karunakaran Ministry.

Chandy first became the Chief Minister on August 31, 2004, A K Antony Ministry resigned following a debacle in the Parliament election. He again became the Chief Minister in 2011. Though UDF came into power with a wafer thin majority in 2011, Chandy’s tactics and pragmatism helped UDF to successfully complete its tenure.

UNDP appreciated Oommen Chandy, for the range of innovative practices in democratic governance, initiated by the Government of Kerala in strengthening people's access and participation in human development and governance. The Chief Minister’s Mass Contact Programme, initiated by Chandy was the first of its kind in the country which provided Chandy a direct access to the people and vice versa.

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