They are everyday witnesses to the drama that often unfolds in front of the Secretariat here. Campaigners, brandishing their flags and declaring their cause, plant themselves in front of the Secretariat inviting just a cursory glance from the street vendors and shop-owners on this arterial road. But on Sunday, they were not entirely comfortable. “We are not sure what exactly to expect,” was the standard response.

Santhosh has been selling fruits from the very same corner near the Statue Medical Stores for close to 20 years now.

As he sold the last of the apples in his stand, he said that on Monday he was not going to be making his routine morning trip to Chala market to purchase more fruits from the wholesale stores there.

“See, it’s not like my business is flourishing and I can afford to not sell for a day. But imagine that I buy cart-loads of fruits, only to realise on my way over to Statue from Chala that I am trapped with no means to get here,” said Santhosh. He cannot risk a pile of fruits to rot. As LDF workers descend from across the State there is cause for concern even for veterans like Santhosh, who have seen many flare-ups here.

Padmakumar, the proprietor of a clothing store here, is worried about the fate of the glass displays on the first floor of his shop.

It was just a few months ago that another protest saw a stone shatter the casing here. “If we can work, we will, otherwise we will just turn back and head home,” he said. For ‘thattu-kadas’ and tea stalls around the Secretariat, the situation is bleak despite the apparent reality that more people implies better business for them.

“Why would they want to pay us and eat when they have the luxury of enough food being served right to them,” asked Jaleel, whose stall relies on his key clientele, the Secretariat staff.

Vinod from Kattakada who sells mangoes near the Statue bus stop on a push-cart said, “If there’s trouble, I’ll simply have to head further up the road.”