Kerala opposition to lay siege to secretariat

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 9 (IANS) The Left opposition will lay siege to the state secretariat here Monday to raise the pitch on its demand for Oommen Chandy to quit over the solar scam even as the chief minister has said he would deal sternly with the agitation.

The Left opposition has announced that 75,000 of its supporters will encircle the state secretariat and will not allow anyone to enter the premises till Chandy resigns.

Fearing violence, the Kerala government has sought central forces. Twenty companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) are en route to the city. A 5,000-strong force will be deployed in and around the city.

State police officers Friday asked government officials not to sanction leave to employees.

"Instructions have been given to police officials to show utmost restraint while tackling protesters," said a police official.

"By Sunday evening, the CRPF team will take over the security of the four gates of the state secretariat. Kerala Police will man the approach roads," said a police official. Prohibitory orders may be issued in and around the secretariat.

Authorities have asked hotel and lodge owners not to give out rooms to protestors.

"We are protesting by staging a silent sit-in outside the secretariat to see that Chandy resigns. We are not out to create a law and order problem," said CPI-M leader K. Surendran.

Congress spokesperson Rajmohan Unnithan said: "The secretariat is the nerve centre for rehabilitation operations going on in the state. There are more than 1,000 relief camps in the state and they are laying a siege."

"The LDF's move to topple a democratically elected government through agitation will not be tolerated at any cost," Chandy had said after a cabinet meeting Wednesday.

Leading an all-party delegation, Chandy reached New Delhi Friday to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and discuss the severe havoc caused due to rain in Kerala.

The Left opposition backed out of the delegation after central forces were called in to tackle the siege.

Apart from the ruling front leaders, the BJP - even though it does not have representation in the Kerala assembly - has also joined Chandy's delegation.


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