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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Kerala: Congress working president and MLA PT Thomas passes away

PT Thomas was a vibrant, outspoken leader of the Congress, who was known for his fiery speeches against Opposition parties.

By: Express News Service | Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: December 22, 2021 6:24:13 pm
Congress state working president and legislator P T Thomas.

Working president of the Congress in Kerala and an MLA from Thrikkakara constituency in Ernakulam district, P T Thomas passed away Wednesday at the Vellore Medical College, where he had been undergoing treatment for cancer for the last few weeks. He was 71.

Thomas was a vibrant, outspoken leader of the Congress, who was known for his fiery speeches against Opposition parties like the CPI(M). His speeches in the Kerala Assembly, where he regularly assailed the current Pinarayi Vijayan-led government and brought forward corruption allegations against officials and ministers, were keenly-watched.

He was elected in 1991 and 2001 from Thodupuzha constituency in Idukki district on a Congress ticket. He served as a Member of Parliament, representing Idukki constituency, from 2009 to 2014. In 2016, he shifted base to the urban, diverse seat of Thrikkakara in Ernakulam district where he won two successive Assembly elections in 2016 and 2021.

Thomas was made the working president of the party in the recent reconstitution of the state unit of Congress.

He stood apart as a man of strong conviction. Within the Congress, he was known as a revolutionary leader for adopting progressive and secular stands on all issues. He showed no hesitancy in going against the Church even if it meant compromising his voter-base.

In fact, he was denied a ticket to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Idukki after inviting the wrath of the powerful Catholic Church in the district.

Most recently, he condemned Joseph Kallarangatt, the Pala Bishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, when the latter said young Christian women were falling prey to “love and narcotic jihad”.

Thomas stood out for his views on protecting the environment, and regularly campaigned against projects that had the potential to harm green spaces. When high ranges of Idukki witnessed massive protests against the implementation of the reports of the Gadgil and Kasturirangan committees, Thomas had shown the courage to stand up for nature.

A writer, Thomas was closely associated with the library movement and cultural activities. He forayed into Congress politics through its student wing Kerala Students Union. A law graduate, he later rose to the leadership of Youth Congress before becoming a Congress leader from Idukki. He was also a member of All India Congress Committee.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan remembered Thomas as a politician who firmly stood for his political perspective. In his death, Kerala lost an excellent parliamentarian as well as orator, said Vijayan.

Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan said in a statement, “It’s a day of irreparable loss for the Congress organisation in Kerala. I have lost my elder brother. He was a Congress warrior who did not compromise on his principles. He was always on the side of the right. He was a model for people like me when he spoke on issues like environment protection and security of women. I cannot believe that he is no more.”

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said he was saddened to hear of his death. “Along with his various contributions to the Congress party and the state of Kerala, he will be remembered for being a vibrant, helpful person,” he said.

Thomas is survived by wife Uma, and sons Vishnu and Vivek.

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