UDF doyens look to repeat magic

 Oommen Chandy and  K M ManiWhat makes both UDF leaders unique is their undefeated record as MLAs for the last 40 years and more.

Kottayam’s celebrated duo Oommen Chandy and K M Mani are poised to repeat their feats yet again as there is no visible slump in their popularity. Chandy, 67, is Opposition leader and the unofficial chief ministerial candidate of the Congress and the United Democratic Front (UDF) while Mani, 77, is the chairman of Kerala Congress (M), the number three party in the UDF.

If Chandy is synonymous with Puthupally, Mani is called “pearl of Pala’’. Chandy has been representing Puthupally since 1970 while Mani had made his electoral foray from Pala in 1965. Chandy has won all the nine Assembly elections he has contested while Mani has won 11 times on the trot.

The duo’s undefeated exploits have been the stuff of legend in the central Travancore belt known for its rubber cultivation as well as the sway of the Church in politics. CPM leader Suja Susan George is Chandy’s opponent this time while film producer Mani C Kappan is taking on K M Mani once again.

Both Chandy and Mani have left indelible mark on the State’s politics. If Chandy has been chief minister, Opposition leader, Finance and Home Minister, Mani has handled Finance and Home and had come close to be the deputy chief minister once. Mani’s son Jose K Mani is a member of Lok Sabha from Kottayam.

Come elections and both Chandy and Mani depend on their supporters to handle their campaign rather than themselves. “It is indeed a big honour that the people have never deserted me. I know each one of them, many of them by name,’’ Mani said while wrapping up his campaign in the hilly areas of his constituency on Monday.

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