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Chandy returns home, goes on 10-day leave

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CAUGHT IN MELEE: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's wife, Mariamma Oommen, pleading with the police to make way for their car at Thiruvananthapuram international airport on Thursday . Photo: S. Gopakumar
CAUGHT IN MELEE: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's wife, Mariamma Oommen, pleading with the police to make way for their car at Thiruvananthapuram international airport on Thursday . Photo: S. Gopakumar

Kerala Bureau

Vakkom to officiate as Chief Minister in his absence

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy who suffered a hip fracture when he slipped on ice at Davos in Switzerland during the World Economic Forum meeting last week returned home on Thursday morning to a rousing welcome. Mr. Chandy will be on leave for ten days.

Finance Minister Vakkom Purushothaman will officiate as Chief Minister in his absence. This has been communicated to Governor R. L. Bhatia and Speaker Therambil Ramakrishnan.

The Chief Minister told mediapersons on his arrival that he would be on leave until he could attend the office. He would not be attending the Assembly session beginning Friday. Mr. Purushothaman would act as the Leader of the House, he said.

Mr. Chandy said that if he went to the Assembly, he could not be able to stand up and speak. The fracture would need time to heal. Doctors had advised him that his hipbone could not take more than 15 kg of weight for two weeks. It would be about six weeks before his hip is fully healed.

The postponement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the State scheduled on February 7 and 8 is being considered because of the incapacitation of the Chief Minister. However, no final decision had been taken yet.

Mr. Chandy will receive visitors between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. every day.

The aircraft carrying Mr. Chandy landed shortly after 8.45 a.m., half an hour behind schedule. Members of the Chief Minister's family, including his wife Mariamma Oommen, Ministers, officials and Congress activists were among those present at the airport. A team of doctors were also present.

Though an ambulance had been kept ready for the Chief Minister, he drove out of the airport in his official car at 9.15 a.m. As soon as the car came out of the gate leading to the tarmac, mediapersons and Congress leaders rushed towards it. Police officials were caught totally off guard by the development. Ms. Ommen, who was with Mr. Chandy, was seen pleading with the policemen to clear the way for the Chief Minister's car. A couple of persons, said to be Congress activists, started shouting at the mediapersons, asking them to let the Chief Minister pass. Repeated appeals by top police officialsto let the car pass did not produce any result. When the situation threatened to get out of hand, policemen started pushing mediapersons away from the car. Finally, the Chief Minister, much to the consternation of his family members, stood up and waved to the crowd. The car immediately sped out of the airport premises. About 200 policemen had been deployed at the airport on Thursday morning.

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