Chandy says Left protest cannot impinge on people's freedom

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 7 (IANS) Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy Wednesday came down heavily on the Left opposition, saying that although the right to protest was guaranteed, it could not infringe on the freedom of other people.

The chief minister was responding to the proposed indefinite strike that the Left had announced, beginning Monday, in which it would practically "lay siege" to the state secretariat, the seat of the state government, in protest against what is termed the "solar scam".

"There is no doubt that one has the right to protest in a democratic manner. But it cannot be at the expense of infringing on the rights of other people who have the right to freedom," Chandy said.

The Left opposition has been demanding the resignation of Chandy over the solar scam case, after a member of his staff was arrested. Two other members of the chief minister's personal staff were sacked, after it was found that they were in close contact with the couple arrested for the scam.

Saritha Nair and her live-in partner Biju Radhakrishnan were arrested after several complaints were received about them. They had offered, at highly subsidised rates, to install solar panels. Many people invested large sums of money on their promise, allegedly backed by people in high office. When nothing came of the investments, complaints started pouring in.

The scam came to light in June this year.

"The fundamental responsibility of a democratically elected government is to maintain law and order and if the proposed protest violates that, strict action would be taken by the government," Chandy said.

The Left opposition is planning to block all roads leading to the state secretariat by bringing in 75,000 of their activists to begin the indefinite siege on the secretariat Monday.

"We are sure that Chandy will not resort to use of force against our siege. If it happens, then it could lead to more issues," CPI-M leader M.V. Jayarajan told reporters.

Chandy said the investigation into the solar scam was in a final phase and, as announced earlier, the government only sought that the opposition should wait until the probe is over.

"We are ready to look into issues they want, after the probe report is submitted," Chandy said.


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