Tom Vadakkan: Overused broom or vacuum cleaner?

published on January 25, 2009

Pioneer News Service | Thirssur

is the difference between a broom and a vacuum cleaner? As far as sane
persons are concerned, a vacuum cleaner is something more than a
mechanised broom. But in the political scene of Thrissur, cultural
capital of Kerala, a broom or vacuum cleaner could refer to Tom
Vadakkan, convener of the media cell of the All-India Congress

As an intense battle was on in the Kerala unit of the
Congress party over how many seats each of the several groups in the
party would bet to contest in the coming Lok Sabha election, and who
all could be cleared for candidature, the question of brooms contesting
polls came up in Thrissur from the mouth of none other than CN
Balakrishnan, District Congress Committee president and veteran leader.

known simply as CN to his friends and foes alike, fired a salvo right
at Tom Vadakkan, who had reportedly been spending buckets of money here
for the past five years with the singular objective of representing
Thrissur in the Lok Sabha by calling him an overused broom
(Kuttichool), though indirectly. Vadakkan responded saying he was not
an overused broom but a vacuum cleaner.

Asked about the reports
of Tom Vadakkan coming all the way down from the AICC office in Delhi
to contest the Thrissur Lok Sabha seat, CN pointed out to newsmen the
other day that Defence Minister and Congress Working Committee member
AK Antony had already promised that no Kuttichools would be given
tickets in the coming election.

He quoted Antony as saying that
the yardstick for candidature this time would be personal integrity and
winnability, implying that Vadakkan might not have any of these
qualifications. CN, once known as a close confidante of veteran leader
K Karunakaran, is said to harbour no passion for exaggerated popularity
and Malayalees who spoke Manglish, a kind of language which is neither
Malayalam nor English.

Thrissur is a place where the Congress is
divided into several camps, and CN’s comment evoked immediate response
from the loyalists of Tom Vadakkan. DCC general secretary PS Srinivasan
was furious when he said nobody expected CN, a leader who had several
decades of his life to the Congress party, should not have spoken so

He said that Balakrishnan’s arrogance had grown
several times when the party was forced to re-appoint him as president
of the district unit after eight months of work without a head. “This
arrogance has made him bold enough to say whatever he feels is right,”
adding that they would approach the central leadership against such

The battle suddenly became obvious and affected
party programmes, with a pre-scheduled State-wide siege on district
collectorates to protest the LDF Government’s policies becoming a mere
dharna in Thrissur. CN, who inaugurated the programme, said they had
mellowed the protest as the Congressmen in Thrissur believed in
peaceful forms of protest which Mahatma Gandhi had adopted to win
freedom for the country from the British.

Vadakkan, who had
already done all the liaison works to ensure the Thrissur seat for him,
was late by a day to reach here, but he lost no time in launching the
counter-attack on CN. In his Malayalam, over-laced with English, he met
newsmen on Saturday while CN went around more substantial political
exercise of meeting middle and lower level leaders.

media cell convener did not forget to threaten the veteran leader
saying disciplinary action against the Thrissur leader was quite
possible as he had used bad word against him. Vadakkan said some people
from outside Thrissur, who were interested in the Thrissur seat, were
behind the Kuttichool (overused broom) qualifier used against him.

that he was not good at use of language, Vadakkan told newsmen, “I am
not a Kuttichool but a vacuum cleaner, determined to clean up
Thrissur,” the meaning of which escaped even his own loyalists. “I have
come here to clean this place, no? So that s what I am going to do,” he

Vadakkan said that nobody could prevent him from
contesting the Thrissur seat, of course, provided the high command
permitted him. “The people behind this Kuttichool controversy are from
outside Thrissur. I am a Thrissurian, and our family has been here for
the past one hundred years,” he claimed.

Later, he visited Mar
Andrews Thazahath, Archbishop, Roman Catholic Church, known as the
religious strongman of central Kerala, causing instant apprehensions
among the Vadakkan-loyalists that there could now be a religious in the
political battle of Thrissur.

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