When Oommen Chandy took a lorry ride and other stories!

October 29th, 2009 - 12:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Shashi Tharoor Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 29 (IANS) From eating at a hotel without enough money in his pocket to being given haircuts by his wife while reading the morning papers, here come anecdotes about former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy that will delight his fans.
They are part of a book about the veteran politician that will be released Nov 5. P.T. Chacko, his press secretary, has written “Kunjunju Kathakal, Alpam Kariyengalum” about little nuggets from the life of Chandy who is now opposition leader in the Kerala assembly.

Chandy, who turns 66 Saturday, has represented the Puthupally constituency in Kottayam district from 1970.

One of the most interesting accounts in the book is about union ministers A.K. Antony, Vayalar Ravi, and Chandy and V.M. Sudheeran travelling on the back of a lorry some time in the late 1960s. As Youth Congress members, they were on their way to Ernakulam to take part in a party meeting. They soon found the only way to travel was in a lorry and jumped into one.

They were held up midway by a roadblock put up by students who wanted to meet Sudheeran personally. Sudheeran told the students that he was not alone and that there were other leaders in the lorry. The students then demanded that all the leaders step down from the lorry, and the leaders obliged.

In another instance, in 1966 when Antony was Youth Congress president and Chandy the secretary, the former had arrived at Kottayam to take part in a meeting. Antony told Chandy that he was hungry and both went to a nearby hotel for food, assuming the other would have money to foot the bill.

But they soon realised that neither had any money. After hanging out for a while, wondering what to do, Chandy chanced upon a neighbour of his who bailed them out!

The book contains several other interesting episodes from the life of Chandy who remains one of Kerala’s most popular leaders.

Chandy’s office in the state secretariat maintains a festive look and is always crowded with people.

Once during his tenure as chief minister (2005-06), a man approached him and said he had found a cure for AIDS. Chandy immediately sensed that he was a conman.

He summoned his private secretary, who suggested that the man proceed to the legislators’ hostel and meet such a person. The man then said he did not have the money to go there, so Chandy gave him Rs.100 and packed him off.

The book also mentions his personal barber - his wife Mariamma Oommen, otherwise an officer with the Canara Bank! Chandy allows his hair to be trimmed only while he is sleeping or reading the morning newspaper. He is very particular that the hair cut should stop as soon as he gets up. So he ends up with quite a few hair cutting sessions in a month!

The book is being published by DC Books. Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor would hand over the book to ace comedian Innocent, president of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes.

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