Left protestors lay siege to Kerala secretariat

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 12 : Thousands of Left protestors Monday blocked three of the four gates of the state secretariat to press for Chief Minister Oomen Chandy's resignation.

The state secretariat is the seat of the Kerala government and the Left opposition has announced that starting Monday, no one will be allowed to enter until Chandy resigns for the solar scam.

The Left's much publicised blocking of all the four gates did not happen. Three of the gates were blocked, but through the fourth gate Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his cabinet colleagues arrived around 7 a.m. to take part in an emergency cabinet meeting.

After the cabinet meeting, Chandy left the secretariat, and enroute some protestors tried to stop him, but senior leaders of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and Elamaram Kareem, pacified their fellow protestors.

Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar was stopped and he returned to the secretariat.

The Left action comes in the wake of the solar scam, which pertains to financial cheating of several people by Saritha Nair and her live-in partner Biju Radkahrishnan who offered clients solar energy solutions at huge discounts -- the accused allegedly used their clout in the CM's office for duping their clients of large sums.

A total of 22 companies of the central forces, including the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), have arrived but are yet to take positions as the police for the time being are on the job.

"By (Monday) evening, we expect the total number of our people who arrive for the siege would cross more than a lakh. We are not going to go away till Chandy resigns," said former CPI-M minister Thomas Issac.

The official inauguration of the protest is scheduled for 11 a.m. when former prime minister H.D. Deva Gowda and CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat arrive at the front gate of the state secretariat.

Chandy is scheduled to meet the media in the afternoon. He is also slated to meet the governor, which the chief minister's office described as a routine visit.

Just 45 percent attendance was recorded in the state secretariat Monday morning.

--IANS (Posted on 12-08-2013)

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