In his 11th outing from his home constituency Puthuppally in central Travancore, Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy is only bothered about his victory margin.
For Chandy, the assembly polls are a crucial test. When the Congress high command declined seats to some of his ministers who were facing charges, the chief minister also offered to keep away from the elections. However, after a six-day drama in Delhi, the leadership had to bow before his demands.
“I don’t have to tell you anything about this poll. Ensure your votes are not wasted,” says the CM. A grassroots leader, Chandy calls his voters by name when he visits a colony. “My opponents have lost count of the charges they raised against me,” he says.
Since his hands are full, Chandy has only spent two days in his constituency, but his people know the daunting task ahead. He’s the ruling UDF’s biggest crowd-puller wherever he goes. Though the solar scam and the bar bribery cases dominate the political contest in other parts of the state, people in Puthuppally are least concerned about the charges. Most of his voters feel the accusations will help Chandy gain sympathy. “This time, his margin will cross 40,000,” says Tony, an engineering graduate.
Unlike his mentor — ex-defence minister AK Antony — Chandy is not a prisoner of his image. He is known to take instant decisions and implement them without worrying about consequences. “I live in the midst of people and nobody can sully my image,” he says.