Left calls for Kerala shutdown to demand Chandy quit

Thiruvananthapuram, July 9 (IANS) Kerala's opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) has called for a state-wide shutdown Wednesday to press its demand for resignation of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, whom it has accused of involvement in the solar panel scam.

The call for the 12-hour shutdown (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.), taken at an emergency meeting of the LDF here, would mean all shops, establishments, and markets would be closed and no public transport vehicles would operate.

The LDF's demands that Chandy resign and face a judicial probe gathered strength after businessman Sreedharan Nair, who was cheated in the scam, Monday told TV channels he was introduced to Chandy at his office here by prime accused Saritha S. Nair July 9 last year.

The LDF said another reason for the shutdown was to protest the manner in which police lobbed a tear gas shell close to the opposition legislators, led by former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan, in front of the state secretariat while they were addressing their supporters.

Achuthanandan, after complaining of breathlessness, was admitted to a private hospital along with former ministers C. Divakaran and Surendran Pillai.

The scam relates to non-delivery of solar panels despite payments made for these and a proposal to set up a unit for solar panels by a con-couple (Saritha and Biju Radhakrishnan) whose links with Chandy's office were exposed following scrutiny of Saritha's telephone call list. An aide of Chandy has also been arrested in this connection.

The ongoing assembly session, spread over two phases, was rocked by this scandal. The speaker Tuesday adjourned the house sine die with the opposition members continuing their tirades against Chandy.

Chandy, ever since the issue cropped up, has denied any involvement in the scam and asserted he will not quit.

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