Vakkom Purushothaman, an architect of landmark legislations
From a humble beginning as a ward member from Vakkom, he went on to become one of the tallest leaders of the Congress party in the state.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In his seven-decade-long political career, positions and offices came in search of Vakkom Purushothaman. He had served as lieutenant governor, governor, longest serving assembly speaker in Kerala, three-time minister, and pro-tem speaker of Lok Sabha to mention a few. However, the working class in Kerala will remember him for a different reason.
Veteran Congress leader Vakkom B Purushothaman, who passed away at the age of 96, here on Monday, was the architect of two landmark legislations that went a long way in protecting the rights of the working class. In his seven-year-long stint as minister for agriculture and labour from September 1971 to March 1977, he initiated steps for the legislation of the Kerala Agriculture Workers Act and the Kerala Headload Workers Act.
A stern politician, who dared to walk his own path, Vakkom always stood out from the rest of Congress politicians in the state. From a humble beginning as a ward member from Vakkom, he went on to become one of the tallest leaders of the party in the state.
In a rare act, he returned to state politics after serving as Governor. One who never shies away from responsibilities, Vakkom harboured hopes of succeeding A K Antony as the chief minister in 2004. When he realised that the majority of legislators and the Congress high command favoured Oommen Chandy, he withdrew in a dignified manner, without causing any internal bickering.
Vakkom strongly opposed group politics in party
The A group gave him a decent berth in the form of finance minister in the Chandy cabinet from 2004 to 2006. Earlier while serving as Speaker from 2001 to 2004, Vakkom emulated stipulations brought by the Lok Sabha secretariat when it came to covering the assembly proceedings.
With an iron hand, he managed the assembly without deviating from the laid-down norms and adhering to requisite procedural formalities. In his party, Vakkom was never a hardcore group enthusiast. Though he was initially close to Karunakaran, he moved close to the Antony camp later. However, as a leader, he was above group politics. Vakkom’s demise marks the end of a different genre of leader in the state’s Congress politics.
KPCC has decided to observe three days of mourning as a mark of respect to the departed leader. Vakkom’s body will be brought to the Thiruvananthapuram DCC office and also to Indira Bhavan on Tuesday.
The programmes scheduled by the Congress and UDF for the next three days have been postponed. The meeting called by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi on Tuesday to discuss preparations for the Lok Sabha has been postponed. The Congress leaders from the state who reached Delhi on Monday will be returning to Thiruvananthapuram.