Senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy, who served as Chief Minister of Kerala twice, passed away at a private hospital in Bengaluru in the wee hours of Tuesday.
Chandy, 79, had not been keeping well for quite some time and was staying in Bengaluru since November last year. He was ailing from throat cancer.
As a mark of respect, the Kerala government has declared a public holiday on Tuesday. Also, a two-day mourning will be observed in the state.
Chandy will go down in the history of Kerala Assembly records as the longest-serving legislator in the state.
He won his first election in 1970 from his home constituency Puthupally in Kottayam district. When he passed away, he was the sitting legislator from the same constituency and was an MLA for an uninterrupted 53 years.
His body, according to his family, will be flown from Bengaluru later in the day to state capital Thiruvananthapuram and the funeral is being planned to be held at his home parish at Puthupally on Wednesday.
It was last year, he edged out K.M.Mani – the Kerala Congress veteran – in terms of the number of years being a legislator.
Condolences started to pour in with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan recalled his association with Chandy as they both made their debut in the Kerala Assembly in 1970. “We started our political journey together through student politics and continued a very long way. Chandy was always with the people and it’s tough to say goodbye to him,” said Vijayan.
His long-time close aide and the country’s longest-serving Defence Minister A.K.Antony said the loss of Chandy is by far the biggest loss to him and to his family. “…He will go down as the most popular politician in Kerala as even when on his deathbed, his only thinking was how to help people. Kerala will miss Chandy very badly,” Antony said, adding that right from 1973, they used to share everything and Chandy was the one who can never be replaced.