Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno speaks in the funeral of his step mother Eucabeth Anyango at his Kangeso home in Rongo on November 15 2014. Photo: STANLEY ONGWAE
Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno’s failure to clinch a ticket for a seat synonymous with his name since 1988 has become the subject of discussion across Nyanza.
Mr Otieno lost the ODM party nominations to his rival, businessman Paul Abuor.
Otieno, a Makerere and Strathmore-educated economist, is not any other politician.
His name is a brand because of his contribution in and outside Parliament. With a towering height and a booming voice, his colleagues in the House pay attention whenever he is making his contribution to debates.
Besides being a powerful and fluent orator, Otieno shoots straight from the hip.
While serving as a Cabinet minister in the Kanu regime, he had no kind words for the opposition.
He angered opposition leader Jaramogi Oginga Odinga by publicly declaring that it would take many years before a Luo becomes president in Kenya.
Jaramogi was so furious he made a stop-over in Rongo to reprimand him.
But because of his political acumen, the opposition still reached out to him.
In 2008, when Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga and President Mwai Kibaki were forming the coalition government after the disputed presidential poll, Raila appointed him to the Cabinet and made him one of his key advisers.
Because of his vast experience in Government, Otieno quickly became one of the coalition’s pillars, constantly lurking in the background during key meetings between Raila and Kibaki.
After the 2013 elections, which he won against his erstwhile opponent-Hillock Mbogo Ayacko, Otieno started agitating for a new political dispensation in Nyanza.
He started movement called “Kalausi” (Whirlwind). This unsettled ODM and Otieno was labelled a party rebel, something that he vehemently denied.
It was this “Kalausi” tag that his opponents used against him during the campaigns, accusing him of working against Raila.
As the longest serving legislator from Nyanza, Otieno is also credited with the fast growth of Rongo town, which is fast overtaking the neighbouring Homa Bay town.
The outspoken politician was first elected as the MP for the then larger Rongo constituency in 1988 on a Kanu ticket before he lost to his uncle Aluoch Polo in 1992.
In 1997, Otieno lost to Ochilo Ayacko, who went ahead to beat him again in 2002 in a bitter contest.
He, however, beat Ochilo in 2007 on a Kanu ticket again and went ahead to clinch the seat in 2013 on an ODM ticket against his political nemesis, Paul Abuor.
Otieno’s biggest headache had been his former protégé turned competitor, David Osiany and Mr Abuor, a nephew of former powerful Permanent Secretary in the Kanu era, the late Hezekiah Oyugi.
It will be a tough call for Otieno, who has shied away from mentioning the name of ODM leader Raila Odinga in his campaigns and instead has been rooting for himself and the incumbent Governor Okoth Obado.
Concerns were raised when he started skipping rallies held by Raila in the county.
His Government appointment as a peace envoy to Sudan did not help him much in trying to shake off the “Jubilee mole tag’.
But despite his loss at the primaries, Otieno has a wave of loyal followers, especially among the elderly who have seen him through the years and who see him as a peer.
He has been in politics longer than all his hitherto competitors.
Earlier, while campaigning for the nominations this week, Otieno had promised to mend fences with the party.
In an election where the winner of the nomination certificate is likely to carry the day, Otieno, who says he has appealed against the results, is likely to face challenges even if he was to seek a fourth term as an independent candidate.
Abuor, who says he won the nominations fairly, advised him to accept the results and retire from politics.