Koothattukulam: Pennamma Jacob had contested elections only twice, and lost one. Yet her name is significant in the annals of Kerala's electoral history as the only woman representative from the Ernakulam district.
Pennamma Jacob was elected to the 4th Kerala Legislative Assembly from Muvattupuzha in 1970 and served until 1977. (No election was held in 1975 as the Emergency was in force.) That was the only time any woman made it to the assembly from the largely urban district. Pennamma Jacob briefly broke the glass ceiling, thanks to her experience in public service that started with her stint in the Balajanasakhyam.
Born as the fifth child of Annamma and George of Kizhumuripadam at Ramamangalam in 1927, Pennamma married P T Jacob when she was 17 years old. Jacob, a school teacher, supported his wife’s political career. So did his family.
Pennamma Jacob joined the Congress and then shifted to the Kerala Congress. She served as a panchayat member for three terms. In 1970, the CPM offered to support her as an independent candidate from Muvattupuzha. She defeated CPI’s P V Abraham by 14,914 votes. She later drifted apart from the CPM and contested the next election as an independent with no affiliation. She lost.
The same election saw the political rise of her son-in-law: T M Jacob of the Kerala Congress who won from Piravom in his maiden fight. He was married to Pennamma Jacob's daughter Daisy. Though T M Jacob, who went on to become a state minister, invited her back to the Kerala Congress, she chose to join the Congress. She later campaigned for T M Jacob and remained active in philanthropy until her death in 1998.
She was particularly keen on building roads. Many of the roads in Muvattupuzha were paved in her time as the representative. The bus stop near her house at Mannathoor is still named 'MLA Padi'.