The turmoil over the ‘solar power scam’ in Kerala spilled over into the streets from the Assembly on Monday as Leftist youth organisations clashed with the police demanding Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s resignation for his alleged links with a couple accused of swindling several people of large sums of money.
Left activists threw stones and were caned by the police in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Ernakulam, and Kozhikode even as Mr. Chandy was defending an Opposition attack in the Assembly in the morning. Several demonstrators, policemen, and journalists covering the clashes were injured.
Chandy rejects demand
In the Assembly, the Chief Minister categorically rejected the demand of the Opposition that he step down from office and face a judicial inquiry into the reasons why his office had been maintaining constant telephonic contact with Saritha S. Nair, who, along with her associate Biju Radhakrishnan, had collected investments in the name of a fraudulent solar power company.
“There is absolutely no question of my resigning. Nor is the Opposition’s demand for a judicial probe acceptable,” the Chief Minister told the Assembly, asserting that the duo accused of the swindling had not received any help from his office.
He said everyone knew how his office functioned. It was an open place where any citizen could walk in. Some people [members of his staff] might have misused the freedom there. As soon as it came to his notice, he had taken strong action, he said, referring to his decision to keep out of his office two members of his staff who were found to have maintained constant telephonic contact with Saritha. He said a special team of the police headed by a senior officer of spotless integrity was investigating 14 cases against the duo and the guilty would not be spared.
The issue dominated the proceedings in the Assembly right from the start. Left Democratic Front (LDF) MLAs had come to the House with placards demanding the Chief Minister’s resignation and they disrupted the question hour shouting slogans and entering the well of the Assembly. When, after the disruption, the proceedings resumed, Mathew T. Thomas of the Janata Dal (Secular) moved notice for an adjournment motion.
He alleged that the Chief Minister had come under a cloud since statements given by the accused Biju Radhakrishnan on television channels had referred to a meeting he had with the Chief Minister .Mr. Chandy admitted his allowing Biju Radhakrishnan, who was presented to him as an entrepreneur, to meet him and said that the discussion had nothing to do with business. “It was about a purely personal problem [of the person who met him],” the Chief Minister said.
Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan accused Mr. Chandy of “turning the Chief Minister’s office into a camping place for tricksters and allowing the members of his personal staff to extend assistance to the wrongdoers.” Speaker G. Karthikeyan rushed through the government’s financial business listed for the day, as Opposition MLAs trooped out of the Assembly hall to hold a demonstration at the gates of the Assembly Complex.