With the Left Democratic Front (LDF) mobilising all its strength to put the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the government it leads on the defensive on the solar scandal, the ruling coalition has convened an emergency meeting of its senior leaders here on Monday to work out a counter-strategy.

The LDF committee is also meeting here on Monday to chart out its agitation programme to secure the resignation of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy over the alleged connection that a couple of his staff members had with a woman who is now in police custody on charges of cheating.

The youth organisations of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India have announced separate agitations demanding the Chief Minister’s resignation.

Going by the tone and tenor of Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan’s press conference on Sunday, the Assembly is sure to witness tumultuous scenes over the new disclosures that have since been made.

The attempt of the UDF leadership is obviously to close ranks and put up a united face. There was some kind of relief in the ruling coalition camp when Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala finally broke his silence on the scam.

In a statement here, Mr. Chennithala alleged that the Leader of the Opposition and the Opposition were trying to create a smokescreen by raising baseless allegations against the Chief Minister. He said the Opposition campaign could only be construed as politically motivated in view of its impatience to wait till the investigation into the allegations was over and a report was submitted. He said the Congress party would politically face any agitation based on falsehood.

Fresh impetus

Initially, the leaders of the UDF constituents were not willing to come out in defence of the Chief Minister and viewed it as an issue related to his staff members. But the fresh exposures on the solar scam connecting the accused, Saritha S. Nair and her partner Biju Radhakrishnan, to the Chief Minister have given an impetus to the LDF campaign. Some of the UDF constituents are concerned at the mounting campaign and the impact it would have on the image of the coalition. With the full support of his party doubtful, the Chief Minister would make an all-out bid to keep the coalition majors with him, it is pointed out.

There were speculation late in the evening that some of the minor coalition partners such as the Kerala Congress (Jacob) and the Communist Marxist Party (CMP) may not attend Monday’s leadership meeting since some of their issues within the coalition were yet to be sorted out, sources said.

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