25,000 of them to reach city by 9 a.m. today

The trickle of LDF protesters converging on the capital to ‘indefinitely besiege’ the Secretariat till ‘solar scam tainted’ Chief Minister Oommen Chandy relinquished power, poised to turn into a tide late on Sunday.

The first of the vehicles carrying LDF workers, predominantly cardholding members of the CPI(M), from the northern districts of the State arrived in the city at 6 p.m. Thousands more travelling on late night trains and buses were expected by midnight.

Nearly 25,000 protestors from Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram alone were expected to descend on the Secretariat locality, the focal point of the indefinite stir, by 9 a.m. An estimated 60,000 more from other regions would bolster their ranks by Monday evening.

The CPI(M) machinery in the district worked on a war-footing to accommodate the surge of protesters.

S. O. Anil Kumar, attached to CPI(M)’s Vanchiyoor area committee which was responsible for the food and boarding of CPI(M) workers from Thrissur district, said that 4,800 ‘comrades’ were expected by Monday noon. He showed a printed list detailing the names of the protestors adjacent to their mobile phone numbers and addresses. The protestors would wear badges displaying their name and district. The committee office was a hub of activity, with members working the telephones to locate households willing to accommodate the protesters. They seemed to prefer houses with outdoor toilets and garage space so that home life would not be affected by “strangers”. The CPI(M) has also identified hotels and auditoriums to house the protesters.

The party has commandeered fleets of motorbikes, cars and vans owned by its members to transport protesters to and fro from the Secretariat area, the focal point of the indefinite strike, to their respective camps at fixed timings every morning and evening till the mass stir achieved its stated political end.

The CPI(M)’s community kitchens looked well stocked with rice, pulses, vegetables, plantains and pineapples.

The facilities would serve uniform fare (uppumavu for breakfast, rice and sambar for lunch and rice and green gram cooked together and served as gruel for dinner). Black tea would be served round the clock. The stock was likely to be exhausted in a day. So, the collection drive, provisions or money in lieu of it, has been stepped up.

The party has also stocked loads of mosquito repellent coils, candles, match sticks and hooded plastic sheets, which would serve as cheap rainguards. It has also enlisted doctors to attend to protesters who require immediate medical attention. CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan reviewed the arrangements along with other senior leaders.