Thrikkakara bypoll | PT never opposed fielding family members in polls: Uma Thomas


After being unexpectedly thrust into the Thrikkakara by-poll fray following the demise of her husband PT, Uma Thomas is a picture of composure and confidence.

Politics is not new to Uma, who works at a private hospital in Kochi. She was an activist of the Kerala Students Union (KSU) when she was a student of Maharaja's College, Ernakulam.

It was during her student politics days that she met Thomas, which later culminated in their marriage.

Uma had won two elections as a student leader, but she then withdrew from politics to look after her family even as Thomas' political career soared.

Facing the heat of the Thrikkakara by-poll, she is calmness personified. Uma may not be a great orator, but she knows what to say and what not.

Throughout her campaigning, she has been consistent with her skilful evasion of pointed queries on controversial topics.

She leaves the tough questions to her party leadership, while paying extreme attention not to trample over a raw nerve.

Nevertheless, she refuses to be branded as a naïve woman who has been fielded in the poll fray to tap what is known in political parlance as a sympathy wave.

She says she knows Thrikkakara just like her husband knew.

In this interview with Onmanorama amid her hectic electioneering braving the heavy rain, Uma Thomas speaks about why she decided to contest the polls, her upbringing in a Congress family and much more. Edited excerpts:

It has been raining for a few days. How is your campaign progressing amid the adverse weather?

There has been no shortfall in our campaigning. We are moving ahead in unison. 

When and why did you decide to contest the by-poll?

I was born into a Congress family. My husband was also a disciplined Congress activist. Though several leaders asked me to contest the by-poll after (my husband) PT Thomas passed away, I was not interested in it initially. Then when they explained certain things, I thought I should have a rethink. Finally, when the leadership asked me to contest I obeyed it as a disciplined party worker just like a follower of PT. I was informed of the decision when I was in office. The decision was taken at a meeting attended by senior leaders including Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala, V D Satheesan and K Sudhakaran. I was called around 4 pm and told to be home at 5 pm as television reporters would be waiting. I was a bit anxious then. But then as an obedient party worker, I followed the leadership's decision.

Uma Thomas
Uma Thomas

Uma Thomas' biggest identity is that of PT's wife. Your party, however, says you are not just that. How will you introduce yourself to Kerala?

I was born into a Congress family. Then when I was a student at Maharaja's College I was first elected as a women's representative and then as a vice-chairperson on a KSU ticket. After I married PT, I chose to stay as a shadow of him, throughout his rise. Right from his first election, I was throughout with him during the campaigning. I know Thrikkakara just like PT knew the place. PT used to discuss several things at home and it has helped me understand the constituency politically. 

The stance of the Church is widely discussed in this by-poll. PT had a troubled relationship with the clergy. How is your relationship with the Church?

I'm a candidate and I need the support and blessings of everyone. Not only in this election, in any poll, a candidate can only think like that. One or two persons may have been mistaken about PT's stances. However, we cannot forget that there had been scores of people supporting PT. I like to love and respect people belonging to all faiths alike. 

Uma Thomas
Uma Thomas, UDF candidate in Thrikkakara meets Cardinal Mar George Alencherry along with former CM Oommen Chandy and other Congress leaders in Kochi on Wednesday.

Have you learned some campaign strategies from PT Thomas?

I have learned a few. I will tell you after the election. 

When the LDF claimed it would score a century with the by-poll results, you said you will ensure it stays at 99. Do you still have that confidence?

No doubt about that. We are sure to win. You ask anyone around me. From our top leaders to the ordinary party workers, they are all sure about our win. This is a UDF constituency. We are sure that those who love PT and those whom PT loved will never abandon us.

Uma Thomas
Uma Thomas at Sivagiri Mutt

Even some people who have left Congress recently say that PT was against bringing family into politics. Is there any truth in it?

You think about it once again. Can you cite one instance where PT questioned fielding a family member of a leader in an election? No. PT has never said anything like that. First, there are some attempts to twist PT's words. Secondly, isn't I a part of the Congress family? Then what's the need for such a controversy?

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