Quit and face probe in solar scam, Opposition leaders tell Chandy

In a major offensive against the Congress-led United Democratic Front government in Kerala, thousands of the Left Democratic Front workers laid siege to the Secretariat here on Monday. The protest marked the beginning of the Opposition’s indefinite blockade to demand Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s resignation in the solar scam.

Three out of the four gates came under blockade from early hours, with hundreds of activists occupying the roads leading to them. Mr. Chandy and his Cabinet colleagues had to reach the Secretariat early morning to attend a special meeting of the Cabinet. They entered and exited the Secretariat through the Cantonment Gate, which the police had secured on Sunday. Though Central police personnel had been requisitioned, they were not involved in any operation.

Addressing the agitators, the former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, said Mr. Chandy should quit and face an inquiry by a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court. Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said Mr. Chandy should remember that the former Railway Minister, Pawan Kumar Bansal, resigned when it became clear that his relative and office were involved in railway appointments.

Communist Party of India general secretary K. Sudhakar Reddy and RSP general secretary T.J. Chandrachoodan also demanded Mr. Chandy’s resignation.

Though the bulk of the LDF workers, drawn from all over the State, observed restraint, minor skirmishes occurred at two or three points. Quick intervention by LDF leaders and restraint exercised by the police ensured that there was no flare-up. At one point, CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan had to reach a sensitive spot near the RBI office to urge the activists to remain calm.

The government claimed that 67 per cent of the Secretariat employees attended office. However, the functioning of the Secretariat remained hit, forcing the government to declare holidays on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Chief Minister made the announcement after a meeting with his Cabinet colleagues and coalition leaders. The meeting also reportedly decided to hold informal talks with LDF leaders to end the stand-off.

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