Finally, Chandy to shift to official residence (Kerala Newsletter)
Thiruvananthapuram, June 16 (IANS) With the ruling Congress party winning the Neyattinkara by-poll Friday, Oommen Chandy is finally ready to shift to Cliff House -- the official residence of the Kerala chief minister.
The two-storey, 15,000 square feet house with seven bedrooms has traditional Kerala architecture with British colonial influence.
Cliff House was constructed as the residence of Diwan Peshkar, the secretary of the state in charge of Devaswom affairs during the days of the Travancore monarchy.
Even though this is Chandy's second term as the chief minister, it will be the first time he will move in to the official residence.
Speaking to IANS, a source close to Chandy said it was just a question of when it would happen as he had given nod to shift to the official residential address of Kerala chief ministers.
"If he moves, it should take place before July 15 because from July 16 the month of Karkidakom begins, which is considered inauspicious," said the source.
"If he chooses to wait a little more, then it will happen on August 17, when the month of Chingam begins, considered auspicious," the source added.
When V.S. Achuthanandan was the chief minister 2006-11, he lived with his family in Cliff House. Its previous occupant was A.K. Antony, who was the chief minister from 2001-04.
However, the reasons cited for the delay in Chandy moving to the house are many.
When he took over as the chief minister last May, a court was looking into the infamous palm oil import case, and it was alleged that Chandy had a role in it, since he was the state finance minister when the oil import took place in the mid-'90s.
After the judge ordered a re-investigation, Chandy was peeved and wanted to quit, but his party colleagues dissuaded him.
Recently, the court said Chandy had no role in the case.
Then, when many, including his staff, thought the chief minister would move from his house in the capital to the official residence, the Piravom by-election came in March.
There was speculation that Chandy could quit if his party's candidate lost.
"When the candidate won, Chandy felt it would be even better to wait till the Neyattinkara by-poll results," said the source.
"And now that Congress candidate R. Selvaraj has won Neyattinkara too, he has given the nod to his family to get ready to move. Most relieved are his staff and security personnel because they have been huddled in Chandy's house where he has been staying for more than 25 years."
When Kerala was formed in 1957, its first chief minister E.M.S. Namboodiripad chose Cliff House as his official residence.
Meanwhile, Chandy's wife, a retired bank officer, has been making routine visits to the empty Cliff House to oversee the cleaning.
The Cliff House complex has a few outhouses where three of Chandy's aides stay.
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