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HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times
Thiruvananthapuram, June 19, 2013
Smarting from a con woman’s exploits that left his government sunburnt, Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy has decided to go for a smart phone. Chandy had been refusing to own one. Contacting him meant calling up his aides or security staff first. The downside of this arrangement hit the CM hard last week.

A woman, Saritha Nair, in touch with some of his staff members, allegedly took advantage and conned many into falling for imported solar panels and shares in wind energy firms.

This left Chandy red-faced while the Opposition pounced on the ‘solar panel scam’. Consequently, the CM sacked two of his staff members. Two more are likely to go.

“I am seriously thinking of carrying a mobile phone now,” he said, insisting this was not because he was under pressure to change his style of functioning. “I feel a leader should be approachable all the time.”

Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan said not carrying a mobile phone was Chandy’s ploy of getting away with blaming aides. “No ruler will survive if a CM has to go for making some calls,” Chandy said.

The focus on Chandy’s cellular disconnect, ironically, has come a month after the UN lauded his mass connect programme.