PT Thomas, the working president of Congress and a member of the Legislative Assembly, has died

PT Thomas was a feisty Congressman who was noted for his impassioned remarks criticising the opposition parties

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PT Thomas, the working president of Congress and a member of the Legislative Assembly, has died

P T Thomas, the working president of the Kerala Congress and an MLA from the Thrikkakara constituency in Ernakulam district, died on Wednesday at the Vellore Medical College, where he had been receiving cancer treatment for the past several weeks. He was 71 years old at the time.

Thomas was a fiery, outspoken Congressman who was noted for his impassioned rants against opposition organisations such as the Communist Party of India (M). His statements in the Kerala Assembly, in which he often criticised the current Pinarayi Vijayan-led government and levelled corruption claims against officials and ministers, were closely scrutinised.

On a Congress ticket, he was elected to the Idukki district's Thodupuzha constituency in 1991 and 2001. From 2009 to 2014, he was a Member of Parliament for the Idukki constituency. In 2016, he relocated to Thrikkakara, an urban and diversified seat in Ernakulam district, where he won two consecutive Assembly elections in 2016 and 2021.

In the most recent reorganisation of the state unit of Congress, Thomas was named working president of the party.

As a man of strong convictions, he stood apart. He was renowned as a revolutionary leader within the Congress for taking progressive and secular positions on all subjects. He was unafraid to go against the Church, even if it meant jeopardising his voter base.

In fact, after provoking the fury of the district's influential Catholic Church, he was denied a ticket to run in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Idukki.

He most recently chastised Joseph Kallarangatt, the Pala Bishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, for claiming that young Christian women were falling prey to witchcraft, "love and narcotic jihad".

Thomas was well-known for his environmentalist views, and he frequently advocated against projects that threatened open regions. Thomas had demonstrated the bravery to stand up for nature when enormous protests against the execution of the Gadgil and Kasturirangan committees' reports erupted in the upper ranges of Idukki.

Thomas was a writer who was involved in the library movement and cultural activities. Through the Kerala Students Union, a student arm of the Congress, he entered politics. He was a law graduate who went on to lead the Youth Congress before becoming a Congress leader in Idukki. He was also a member of the Congress Party of India's All India Committee.

Thomas was remembered by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as a politician who stayed hard in his political beliefs. Kerala has lost a brilliant politician and orator, according to Vijayan.

Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan said in a statement, "It's a day of irreparable loss for the Congress organisation in Kerala. I have lost my elder brother. He was a Congress warrior who did not compromise on his principles. He was always on the side of the right. He was a model for people like me when he spoke on issues like environment protection and security of women. I cannot believe that he is no more."

Rahul Gandhi, the Congress leader, expressed his sadness upon hearing of his death. "Along with his various contributions to the Congress party and the state of Kerala, he will be remembered for being a vibrant, helpful person," he said.

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