10.5 C
New York
Monday, October 3, 2022

Uma Thomas | Out of the shadows – Mrit News

- Advertisement -

Uma Thomas was the unanimous choice of the faction-ridden Congress in Kerala when the Election Commission of India announced on May 2 that the byelection in Thrikkakara Assembly constituency in Ernakulam would be held on May 31. Within 24 hours of the declaration of the byelection, the Congress announced its candidate.

The constituency, a traditional Congress stronghold, was twice represented by P.T. Thomas, her husband and senior Congress leader. The byelection was necessitated following his death on December 22, 2021. As the votes were counted on June 3, Ms. Thomas emerged as a giant killer with a record victory margin of 25,016 votes against the Left candidate, Jo Joseph. The Left Democratic Front, which has 99 members in the 140-member Assembly, had run a high-octane campaign seeking to “hit century”. But Ms. Thomas had the last laugh.

The 56-year-old is no political novice, though she always preferred to remain under the shadow of her husband, a four-time MLA and one-time MP, who represented the Idukki Lok Sabha constituency from 2009 to 2014.

A zoology graduate from the Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, she began her political innings as an active member of the Congress-affiliated Kerala Students’ Union (KSU). She cleared her maiden electoral test as a university union councillor in 1982 and followed it up with her second win as vice-chairperson of the college union in 1984. She met Thomas, who was then the State president of the KSU, while she was rendering a song at an election meeting held on the campus. The friendship grew and led to marriage on July 9, 1987 despite opposition from her family against the inter-religious union.

A mother of two sons, she withdrew from active politics after her marriage but continued to use her organisational skills gained from her campus life in the various election campaigns of her husband. She renewed her long-term contacts in Ernakulam after the Congress decided to field Thomas at Thrikkakara in the 2016 Assembly election.

It was a battle of prestige for him after the party had denied him ticket to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Idukki in view of the opposition from the Catholic Church over his demand for implementing the report of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel. He won the seat even when a Left wave drowned the Congress-led front in Kerala in the 2021 Assembly election.

Thomas’s untimely death from cancer last December prompted the Congress to hand over the seat to Ms. Thomas, despite more than half-a-dozen aspirants eyeing it. Though she stayed away from all discussions over her candidature initially, it was almost certain that she would be the party’s natural choice to keep the memories of the departed leader alive.

Political acumen

Much to the surprise of many, Ms. Thomas displayed her political acumen and composure right from the start of the campaign. As workers celebrated the announcement of her candidature, media persons were quick to ask her about the possibility of the Left scoring a century in the Assembly. “What about restraining it at 99,” she retorted. As the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) exchanged words over allegations that the Left candidate was backed by the Church, she stayed out of the controversy by saying that Church and politics need not be mixed. However, she was quick to respond whenever the Opposition camp trained guns on her husband.

“How can a Chief Minister make such an inconsiderate statement,” Ms. Thomas asked after Pinarayi Vijayan said at an election convention that the byelection was an opportunity and blessing to correct the mistake of the election verdict in 2021 [in favour of Thomas].

She broke down at the last lap of the campaign after her practice of keeping aside food in memory of her husband was mocked on social media. When the results were out, however, the Congress saw its highest-ever margin in the history of Thrikkakara constituency. And Ms. Thomas has finally stepped out of the shadows of her husband.

Her political makeover came full circle when she stated that the people of Thrikkakara had defeated Pinarayi Vijayan and his government, in her first reaction after the victory. Ms. Thomas, who was working as an Assistant Finance Manager in a private hospital in Kochi, will join the Opposition benches as the only woman representative of the Congress in the current Assembly.

- Advertisement -

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles