Amidst speculation of the former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy contesting the assembly elections from the Nemom constituency in Thiruvananthapuram, hundreds of Congress workers including women poured into the road and staged protests against him leaving the Puthuppally seat when the senior Congress leader reached his residence here on Saturday.
The drama began to unfold around 9 a.m following reports that Mr.Chandy would be reaching home after the discussions on the Congress' candidate list with the party leadership in New Delhi .
A large number of party workers gathered near his house and raised slogans against any attempt to field Mr.Chandy from any seat other than Puthuppally.
The tension in the air escalated further when a band of supporters waylaid Mr.Chandy’s car, declaring that they would not let their long-time MLA leave Puthuppally. The anger boiled over when an emotionally-charged supporter, holding a party flag in his hand, climbed atop the rooftop of Mr.Chandy’s house and threatened to jump off.
The 77-year old leader, also a two-time Chief Minister, has been representing Puthuppally in the State Assembly for the last 51 years since 1970.
As the protest continued to rage, senior Congress leaders including K.C.Joseph and District Congress Committee president Joshy Philip reached the spot and attempted to pacify the party workers, though with little success. Following this, Mr.Chandy held discussions with the Congress local leadership and assured the supporters that he would not leave Puthuppally to contest in Nemom.
“Candidates in as many as 81 constituencies have been finalised and my name is given as the candidate in Puthuppally. Neither the State nor the central leadership have asked me to contest from Nemom. I completely understand and acknowledge the emotions of party workers and followers. There is no way I am leaving Puthuppally,” Chandy said.
He, however, did not rule out the possibility of contesting from the two seats by stating that ‘it was upto the party leadership to decide on all such matters.’
Meanwhile, DCC president Joshy Philip said that he had already sent a letter seeking not to shift Mr.Chandy from Puthuppally. The presence of Mr.Chandy in the seat, according to him, would be crucial for the party in Central Kerala.
The protests came as a major embarrassment for the Congress leadership, which seeks to field a strong candidate in Nemom – a sitting seat of the BJP.
Besides Mr.Chandy, the Congress High Command was also reported to be considering the Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala as its candidate in the assembly segment .