Challenging the tactics of threats and intimidation employed by the UDF government, tens of thousands of LDF activists poured into the streets of Thiruvananthapuram to lay siege to the state secretariat. They were responding to the call given by the LDF for an indefinite picketing. With this, the movement demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and a judicial probe into the solar panel scam entered a new phase.

People in front of the SecretariatThat a determined people cannot be stopped by any means was evident from the evening of August 11 itself with hundreds arriving by each train that reached Thiruvananthapuram station. They braved all attempts to cow them down including the deployment of a large number of central and state paramilitary forces. The numbers that had finally reached Thiruvananthapuram using all available modes of transport on day one of the indefinite picketing far exceeded the expectations of the organizers.

In the wee hours of August 12 LDF activists started their march towards the secretariat. The huge contingent of armed policemen could not stop the onward march of these people who had come in from various parts of the state. More than one lakh people had gathered around the secretariat. Chief Minister and his colleagues had to sneak into the Secretariat early in the morning to attend a cabinet meeting. The cabinet meeting was held at 6.30 a.m., well before the inauguration of picketing. Police cordoned off the cantonment gate area and made special arrangements for the passage of the ministers and employees.  

After the cabinet meeting, Chief Minister managed a sudden exit helped by the police. Other ministers had to wait for long hours before they could move out, with heavy police escorts.

Inaugurating the picketing, CPI (M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said Congress was setting a “shameless” standard of not accepting responsibility for “what is happening right under its nose.” Oommen Chandy should step down from office if he had any accountability to people. While there were instances of Chief Ministers and Union Ministers resigning on moral grounds earlier, the Congress party had now stooped to low levels to protect corruption, he said. 

People in front of the SecretariatThe Congress-led government in Kerala had called the Indo-Tibetan Border Police to protect a Chief Minister, who was facing allegations of corruption. “They are supposed to protect the borders in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. 

Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda said only an impartial probe by a judicial commission led by a High Court judge could come out with the truth about the solar scam and the Chief Minister should step down to make way for such a probe.  “The government cannot move ahead with an undeclared emergency all the time in view of the people’s struggle. At least Chandy should step down to come out from the tangle,” Gowda said.  CPI General Secretary Sudhakar Reddy said that Chandy could not escape moral and political responsibility in the solar scam. 

Other leaders who participated in the picketing were CPI(M) Polit Bureau Members S Ramachandran Pillai, Kodyeri Balakrishnan and M.A Baby, leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly V.S. Achuthanandan, LDF convener Vaikom Vishwan, CPI State Secretary Pannian Ravindran, CPI leaders Veliyam Bhargavan, C Divakaran, RSP General Secretary T J Chandrachoodan, RSP leader N K Premachandran, NCP General Secretary T P Peethambaran, Kerala Congress Leader P C Thomas etc. CP(M) State Secretary Pinaryi Vijayan presided over the inauguration of the picketing.

The government has closed the secretariat for two days, August 13 and 14. Earlier, the government had announced the closure of educational institutions for two days.

Thiruvananthapuram, August 12, 2013