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Oommen Chandy's resignation ; LDF volunteers converged around the Secretariat

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Story Dated: Monday, August 12, 2013 05:50 hrs EDT

In a massive show of strength, thousands of LDF volunteers converged around the Secretariat here this morning as part of their indefinite campaign to demand resignation of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in connection with the solar panel scam.

While the protesters blocked three gates of the secretariat, police managed to keep one gate open, through which Chandy and his cabinet colleagues entered the complex early in the morning.

Though a few contingents of central paramilitary forces have already been brought to the city, they are kept as reserve and police were deployed in full strength for security of the seat of power.

Chandy, who came to power in May 2011 after leading the Congress-led UDF to victory in the assembly polls, had yesterday said force would not be used to suppress the agitation if it was carried out peacefully but would be compelled to act sternly if violence erupted.

Spurning the olive branch held out by Chandy, LDF leaders rejected the offer of talks, asserting there was no compromise on the demand for his resignation.

Rocking the state for some two months, the solar scam has brought Chandy under a cloud, especially after the arrest of a personal assistant in his office for his alleged links with the accused.

The scam pertains to financial cheating of several people by the accused Biju Radhakrishnan and Saritha Nair, both under arrest, by offering clients solar energy solutions.The accused allegedly flaunted their clout with the CM's office for duping unsuspecting clients of huge sums.

Meanwhile, causing further embarrassment to Chandy, a local television channel last night beamed a photograph showing Saritha sharing a platform with him during a function in January last year.

National leaders of the Left and allied parties including JD(S) supremo and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda besides Prakash Karat (CPI-M) and Sudhakar Reddy (CPI) will address the protesters.

LDF's plan is to paralyse the functioning of the seat of power by blocking all the four gates of the secretariat complex.

Police, however, is keen to keep at least one gate of the secretariat unaffected so that ministers, bureaucrats and employees could go in and come out of the complex.

An emergency meeting of KPCC office bearers, held here to take stock of the situation, rallied behind Chandy dubbing the LDF stir as a ruse to topple an elected government through undemocratic means.

"This is an utterly undemocratic and deplorable move to topple the government. Congress and UDF allies will thwart such attempts," KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala told reporters.

However, reflecting the differences within Congress about the manner in which the agitation was being dealt with, former KPCC president K Muraleedharan said government's preparations had actually imparted greater publicity to the LDF campaign, which would have fizzled out in due course.

Top police sources said the central forces camping in the city would be deployed only if a situation arose for that and police were confident of tackling the situation.

Holiday has been declared for educational institutions in the city for the next two days and sale of liquor banned since Sunday evening.

Unfazed by elaborate arrangments by the government to deal with the stir, left volunteers from all the 14 districts in the state have set off to converge in Thiruvanathapuram, the state capital, at least by wee hours Tuesday.

CPM and CPI have cranked up their machinery to put up the volunteers, mostly in houses of local cadres. A public kitchen has also been opened in the city to feed the protesters.

CPM would be mobilising some 75,000 volunteers through branch committees in all the districts and CPI another 25,000, LDF sources claimed.

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