Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has been so busy a man during the four decades of his public life that he was not around when any of his three children was born. And his wife once had to send him a letter to complain about the new cook at their official residence.
True or false? Whatever, anecdotes about Chandy abound. And now they fill a book that also carries his caricatures. The compilation by his press secretary P.T. Chacko is being made public here Tuesday by Minister of State for Human Resource Shashi Tharoor. The book is being published by DC Books.
The 64 caricatures and the anecdotes lucidly narrated by Chacko reveal Chandy as a man of simplicity, without much thought to sartorial considerations. They also show him as a man always on the move, with little time to spare for his family. Whether at home or in office, he is surrounded by a crowd.
According to one anecdote, even his wife, a retired banker, rarely sees her husband. On one occasion, after she got no chance to speak to him about a cook appointed in their official residence, Mariamma Oommen Chandy wrote a letter to the chief minister.
The book says:"... he spotted a letter bearing a familiar handwriting. It was a complaint against the cook, written and signed by yours truly, Mrs Chandy."
Mariamma reveals that when she gave birth to their three children, her husband was not around. When she delivered their first child, Maria, Chandy was assigned to accompany the visiting Sushma Swaraj, the then Haryana labour minister who now is leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha. And when their second child was born, Chandy was drawn away for an urgent party meeting.
His two daughters and a son point out, with a tinge of rue, that it`s only when there is a state-wide shutdown that they get to see their Papa at home, the book says.
Chandy contested form the Puthupally assembly constituency in Kottayam district first in 1970, and he has not lost a single election since then.
Another interesting incident the book talks about is an interaction Chandy had with superstar Mohanlal on completing 40 years as a legislator. When the film star asked him about the last film he saw, pat came the reply, "Manjil Virinja Pookal".
A shocked superstar took a while to realise that it was the superstar`s first film, released in 1980.
Till the solar panel scam broke out, Chandy could be reached only through the mobile of his close aides, as he did not carry a cell phone. People who know him, know that the only way to speak to Chandy without any disturbance is over phone.
Another incident from the book: Recently when Chandy was accompanying the president of India, a call came to his aide and he replied that Chandy is accompanying the Rashtrapatiji. The caller asked, "Can you please give me the Rashtrapatiji`s number?"