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Aged 91, 87, 78... Kerala's veterans will fight elections

Tuesday March 08, 2011 04:59:49 PM, Sanu George, IANS

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Thiruvananthapuram: At age 91, K.R. Gowri is still itching to contest Kerala's assembly elections. Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan is 87 but is not ready to call it a day. And there are many over 75 years of age who are eager to battle it out, surprising friends and foes alike.

Welcome to God's own country where age is no bar in politics -- perhaps more than any other place in India.

As Kerala inches towards the April 13 poll to pick a 140-member house, there are plenty of familiar faces who have been in the thick of it all for decades.

Leading the pack is Gowri, India's oldest woman politician who has contested all the assembly elections in Kerala since the first one in 1957. She will be a candidate of her party JSS this time too.

In her long political career, she was a minister in the state's first Communist regime of 1957. She joined the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in 1964. When she was sacked three decades later, she allied with her long-time enemy, the Congress.

For a politician who has lost only two elections (1977 and 2006), Gowri's supporters are confident she will be back in the legislature -- as part of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

Achuthanandan, who remains an athletic figure despite his age, is certain to contest as the CPI-M cannot afford to remove him.

Then comes 78-year-old Minister for Local Self Government Paloly Mohammed Kutty of the CPI-M. Although he wants to opt out, his party feels replacing him would be difficult in the Muslim-dominated Malappuram district.

K.M. Mani, another 78-year-old, is the longest serving legislator in Kerala, having won every election since 1967. As head of the Kerala Congress (Mani), he is certain to contest the Pala seat which he has always represented.

M.V. Raghavan, another former Marxist who has thrown his lot with the Congress, is 77. But despite failing health, he announced he will contest -- if his party requests. For the former minister, age is no issue.

Labour Minister P.K. Gurudasan is a first-time legislator at age 75. A champion of the trade union movement, it remains to be seen if he will be allowed to retire.

The 75-year-old seven-time legislator Aryadan Mohammed is the oldest Congress leader in the assembly, where he has been the guiding force for the opposition ranks.

Although he has had a bypass surgery, it is almost certain he will be given one more chance to contest from his home constituency of Nilambur in Malappuram.

These are not the only politicians in Kerala who lived to ripe old age.

Former chief minister K. Karunakaran, who died last year, was 92-year-old. E.M.S. Namboodiripad, who headed the first Communist ministry of Kerala and led the CPI-M for years, was 89 when he died in 1998.

G.M. Banatwala of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) was 74 when he breathed his last in 2008. Another IUML veteran, P.S.M.S. Thangal, died in 2009 -- at age 73.

(Sanu George can be contacted at








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