Senior Congress leader and former Lok Sabha MP PT Thomas MLA was a bold and very popular voice of the party in Kerala for his uncompromising stand on various issues like implementing the Gadgil committee report on the Western Ghats and taking on the Catholic church over the matter, said colleagues of PT Thomas who died at a hospital in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.

Cutting across party lines, political leaders paid rich tributes to P T Thomas, who was the working president of the Kerala state unit of Congress.

71-year-old politician’s end came at 10.15 am on Wednesday while he was undergoing treatment for cancer at Christian Medical College in Vellore.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan remembered Thomas as a person who raised key issues in the State Assembly and outside, anchoring firmly on to his political convictions. 

Congress former chief Rahul Gandhi, who is in Kerala now for party programs, said Thomas was a towering personality and a forward-looking and open-minded leader who was concerned about the environment. He added that Thomas was a deeply secular person who built bridges between all communities.

Rahul canceled his programs and proceeded to Kochi to pay tribute to his colleague.

Congress Kerala chief K Sudhakaran said PT was the progressive face of Congress in Kerala. “He scaled heights with the strength of his personality. He was a leader who dared to tell the world unsavoury truths,” he said.

According to Opposition leader V D Satheesan, Thomas was like an elder brother to him. “PT always stood on the side of the right. His stance on environment and women safety issues were exemplary,” he said.

Governor Arif Mohammed Khan termed Thomas as a vibrant and dedicated legislator. 

The former ambassador of India Venu Rajamony said he lost a friend of forty years and more.

PT Thomas born in 1950, served as a member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly, representing the Thrikkakkara assembly constituency from 2016 until his death. He was also a Member of Parliament who represented the Idukki Lok Sabha constituency.

Thomas began his political career as a worker of the Kerala Students Union (KSU), the student outfit of the Congress in Kerala, during his school days.

He held several positions, including state president of the KSU and Youth Congress during his eventful political career.

Thomas’s eyes were donated at the Vellore hospital as he had wished for.