'My biggest pleasure is spending time with people', Oommen Chandy opens up to Sathyan Anthikad
Though former chief minister Oommen Chandy never watches films, he opened up to the questions asked by popular movie director Sathyan Anthikad and shared his life experiences while he is completing 50 years as an MLA. Excerpts from the interview between Oommen Chandy and Sathyan Anthikad.
You are always amid the crowd. Have you ever spent a 2 hours to watch a movie completely?
I was interested to watch movies in my childhood. Though I wanted, I could not watch movies then. After being elected as MLA, it remained a dream totally.
The movie ‘Sandesham’ which was written by Sreenivasan and directed by me is still relevant even after 30 years. We have criticised both Communists and Congressmen in the film. We faced threats from Communist people, but Congress workers remained calm.
Congress never violate freedom of expression. Even if someone takes such a stand, the leaders would stop them. We all perceive that having a person to point at our mistakes will help strengthen the social service. The media influence is important because of this reason. There were many good things that took place during the Emergency. But censoring the media was a he mistake.
Have you ever felt that the personal enjoyments like listening to music, reading book, feel the nature and travel with family etc? Did you feel that you missed all these all things?
I want to do all these things. But I don’t get time for all these. I try to feel all the pleasure by spending my time among the people. My book is a crowd. I get to know many things from the common people. I organised people’s contact programmes and helped provide solutions to their problems. Many people don’t get the welfare pensions due to technical issues and due to ignorance of the procedures. Some of them do not even have ration card.
During the 50 years as MLA, who is the Communist chief minister you respect the most?
When it comes to Communist chief ministers, it is Achutha Menon, for sure. He is calm and quiet. But also stubborn about implementing the right things. Indira Gandhi also respected him very much. I could accomplish many things with his contact and the influence of K Karunakaran, the then home minister. However, the Left leaders whom I respect and love the most are M N Govindan Nair, T V Thomas and T K Divakaran.
You have worked agreeing and disagreeing with K Karunakaran. As a close contact of Karunakaran, what are the major characteristics noticed in him?
K Karunakaran is a person who uses practical intelligence and takes timely political decisions. He is person who foresees things and do the right thing at the right time. Nedumbassery airport which is one of the top airports in the world, was set up due to the powerful moves of Karunakaran. Those who opposed him then have later been part of the director board.
You seem to respond ‘what...what’ to some questions during press meet. This is a similar style of actor Sreenivasan. He laughs at tough questions and think of an answer during that moment of laughter. Is that the same technic?
Sometimes we may need some more time to understand questions. Then we use the pauses as a time for thinking and preparing an answer.
If you were the chief minister, what decision would have taken in Sabarimala issue?
I think if I was the chief minister, no such verdict would have come. The affidavit against the customs was filed during the time of V S Achuthanandan. We filed a new affidavit when case was charged in 2016. The judge also pointed out the same. The court verdict was favourable for UDF in the matter of Padamanabha Swamy temple also. Do not mix politics in customs and beliefs. Do not hurt the sentiments of the believers.