Amidst peaceful Opposition protest, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy resumed his mass contact programme at the Central Stadium behind the State Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday morning.
Scores of Opposition activists gathered before the State secretariat and various roads leading to the venue of the mass contact programme under the leadership of Left Democratic Front (LDF) MPs and MLAs, forcing the police to remove them. Although the MPs and MLAs offered some resistance initially, they cooperated with the police, after making their point against the mass contact programme which, they said, was nothing but a ‘political farce’ after Mr. Chandy had faced public ignominy over the ‘solar scam’.
Among those removed were Rajya Sabha MPs C.P. Narayanan and T.N. Seema and Lok Sabha member A. Sampath. The MLAspresent included Koliyakkode N. Krishnan Nair and V. Sivankutty (CPI-M), V. Sasi (CPI), and Jameela Prakasam (JD-S). The MPs said they would complain to the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman as they had arrived at the venue on an invitation from the Chief Minister. The general nature of the protest indicated that the Opposition leadership had decided not to disrupt the mass contact programme or indulge in violence.
The police had thrown a tight security over the venue of the mass contact programme from early hours of Friday. The Chief Minister arrived at the venue minutes before commencement of the programme at 9 a.m. The Chief Minister is scheduled to consider around 500 petitions that had been scrutinised by the district level screening committee. By 11 a.m., the Chief Minister had heard over 100 petitioners and sanctioned assistance totaling Rs. 7.5 lakh, mostly for those seeking treatment assistance. Besides Ministers and ruling front MLAs, senior officials of government were also present to assist the Chief Minister.
The mass contact programme, which was thrown into serious uncertainty following the Opposition agitation over the ‘solar scam’, would continue till late Friday evening during which time the Chief Minister would also hear people who arrive at the venue without giving prior intimation to the district administration regarding their grievances. The Chief Minister would move to the other 13 districts with his mass contact initiative over the coming one month.