Puthupally, (Ker) Apr 19: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is yet to launch his formal campaign in Puthupally, from where he is seeking an 11th term in state Assembly in the May 16 elections, but Congress workers are already confident of his victory with an impressive margin.
Though Chandy is busy with election conventions of the ruling Congress-led UDF, his presence can be felt in every nook and cranny of this constituency which he is credited with nurturing and where he regularly conducted 'people's durbar'.
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This town in Kottayam district is considered his pocket borough as Chandy is the only Congress leader in the state who have been elected 10 times in a row to the Assembly from the same constituency.
It is a usual practise of Chandy, popularly known as 'Kunjunju' among his supporters, to be in Puthupally on Sundays for the durbar, if he has no other important official engagements.
"This has been his practise for the last several years whether he is in the ruling side or in opposition. His affection for his constituency is so deep that he would never miss a chance to be in Puthupally despite his hectic schedule," said P T Chacko, a close associate of Chandy.
People's darbar is a miniature version of his popular Mass Contact programme where he used to receive petitions from people personally and take on-the-spot decisions. The innovative statewide programme, which he conducted thrice during the present UDF term, had earned him UN recognition.
"At the darbar, at least 500-600 people used to come early morning and it used to continue till afternoon," Chacko said. "His victory is assured. We are working for increasing the margin of 33,255 votes in 2011 polls.
There is no need to introduce the candidate to voters. Every person in the constituency knows him very well," Biju, a Congress worker, told PTI.
UDF convention in the constituency is scheduled to be inaugurated by Kerala Congress (M) supremo and former Finance Minister K M Mani on April 20.
A shrewd strategist with the man-next-door image, 73-year-old Chandy has been a key player in Kerala Congress for over four decades. Chandy was just 26-years-old when he became MLA for the first time from Puthupally in 1970 and he never looked back.