Developments of the day temporarily put on the backburner the question of Oommen Chandy’s resignation.
The LDF’s decision to call off its Secretariat blockade following the State government’s announcement of a judicial inquiry by a sitting judge of the High Court appears to be a partial victory for Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
The developments of the day, leading to the announcement of the judicial inquiry and the withdrawal of the Secretariat siege, temporarily put on the backburner the question of Mr. Chandy’s resignation, one of the two main demands of the LDF.
The second part of Mr. Chandy’s victory will depend on the terms of reference of the judicial probe related to bringing the involvement of his office in the solar scam within its purview.
Mr. Chandy has already ruled out this out, by maintaining that it would depend on the extent of the criminal investigations into the scam. Orders for the judicial probe will be issued as soon as the State Cabinet gives the green signal when it meets here on Friday.
Viewing it from the State government angle, the entire siege of the secretariat remained peaceful and it did not have to use any kind of force.
It also goes to the credit of the Chief Minister that he kept the channels of communications with the top LDF leadership open, offering to hold talks and working behind the scene to strike a workable pact.
Right from the beginning, the Chief Minister’s approach was to treat the agitation as a law and order problem though it had admittedly political aims.
He had openly stated that he assumed the responsibility for the decisions taken to handle the agitation.
He also roped in the UDF leaders for discussions when faced with the charges that he was acting unilaterally.
The decision to requisition Central forces to handle the agitation also had its own impact, helping the government to wrest an assurance from the CPI (M)-led LDF leadership that the stir will be peaceful.
The Chief Minister did not forget to compliment the Left leadership for its equanimity in handling the huge crowd and claim credit for the government machinery, which he said, had risen to the occasion.
According to Mr. Chandy, the government had made it clear that it was willing to order a judicial probe as soon as the criminal investigations into the solar scam were over.
Reacting to a question on why the judicial probe was delayed, Mr. Chandy told The Hindu that the State government wanted to protect those who had been cheated in the scam and ensure that the accused were brought to book. The two main accused in the case had been indicted in 14 cases during the LDF rule.
The failure of the LDF government to file charge sheet within the stipulated 90 day period helped the two accused to go scot free and continue with the cheating.
“We did not want to create a situation where the criminal investigations would be delayed unnecessarily and the accused might get judicial remedies if they move court. We have now completed the investigation in record time. The judicial probe will provide another opportunity to include other issues that might have been overlooked by the Special Investigation Team,” he said.
While Mr. Chandy has succeeded in warding off the first major challenge to his position, it would be an uphill task for him to rebuild the image he lost owing to the solar scam and establish the credibility of his office.