George Jacob/ G. Krishnakumar
KOTTAYAM/kochi: Congress leader Mercy Ravi, who died at a private hospital in Chennai on Saturday, had maintained a unique relationship with Kottayam: she is the first and so far the only woman elected to the Assembly from the constituency and it is the only constituency she has represented.
Daughter of Kuruvila Kattikaran and Thandamma, she was born in Ernakulam on March 18, 1946. She completed her schooling at the St. Mary’s convent school in Ernakulam before pursuing her pre-university and degree programmes at the Maharaja’s college here. She got married to Vayalar Ravi on June 9, 1969. She made her political foray through the Kerala Students Union (KSU). Later, she became general secretary of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC).
In 1996, she contested to the Assembly on the Congress ticket from Mala in Thrissur district, but lost to V.K. Rajan of the Communist Party of India.
She was elected to the Assembly in 2001 from Kottayam after defeating her nearest rival and the then CPI(M) district secretary Vaikom Viswan with a comfortable majority of 11,841 votes. In fact, she was the second non-Left candidate to represent the constituency in the Assembly since 1977 and the first one to reach the House after fighting on a party symbol other than those of the Communist parties during this period. (N. Sreenivasan got elected to the Assembly as an Independent with United Democratic Front support in 1982.)
Her physical presence in the constituency was often compromised on account of her illness, but even in her absence, she was keen to implement as many development programmes as possible, the majority of them helped to improve the life of the poorer sections of the constituency. In this endeavour, she mopped up the funds from her local area development fund and also from her husband’s (who is a Rajya Sabha MP). She set a new example by incorporating as many civil society organisations as possible in such endeavours.
Very few knew that the idea of an internal container terminal at Nattakom was mooted during her tenure as MLA and the entrepreneurs had an enthusiastic listener in Ms. Ravi. Her greatest strength in the new terrain was the personal relationships she had woven in a short span of time — and these had come to her support in her development activities. Ms. Ravi did not contest the 2006 Assembly elections.
Ms. Ravi had worked as general secretary of the Kerala Mahila Congress and the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee. She had served as national president of the women’s wing of INTUC. Ms. Ravi had penned a Malayalam book, Parali Pomena. The book, published by DC Books, includes essays and memoirs.