LDF hartal hits life in Kerala; Chandy rules out resignation
Thiruvananthapuram: Barring stray incidents of violence, the 12-hour state-wide shutdown called by CPI-M-led LDF demanding resignation of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on solar scam issue disrupted normal life and ended more or less peacefully, as a defiant Chandy ruled out his stepping down.
Police said no major untoward incident was reported from any part of the state in connection with the dawn-to-dusk hartal.
With the Opposition taking to the streets gunning for his ouster, a combative Chandy, in the eye of a storm triggered by the solar panel scam, rejected the demand for his resignation.
Seeking to turn the tables on the opposition, he said the hartal was a challenge to the people with a view to creating political turmoil in the state.
"I am not a person who wants to cling to power at any cost. But, if I resign now, I will be doing injustice to truth," Chandy said.
It was a clear case of cheating and probe by the special investigation team is progressing in the right direction, he said adding the investigation would be completed in few days.
Launching a strident attack on CPIM-led LDF, he said their demand was part of a political conspiracy by the opposition, which was refuted by CPI-M politburo member and former state minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
Chandy said allegations against his son Chandy Oommen by BJP leader K Surendran and LDF that he had links with the solar company involved in the scandal was "very unfortunate".
It has been decided to take legal action against the persons who raised unfounded allegations, Chandy said.
The hartal disrupted life with functioning of all business establishments including Banks, markets and government offices across the state being badly affected.
Educational institutions including professional colleges in the state, remained closed.
Referring to stray incidents, police said a congress office in Kannur and the office of Congress MLA, MA Waheed at Kazhakootam near here were stoned allegedly by hartal supporters.
In another stone pelting incident, a bus of Karnataka Road Transport Corporation was damaged in Kozhikode.
Pelting of stones on private vehicles and roadblocks put by hartal supporters were also reported from different parts of the state, police said.
No one had been injured in any of the incidents, police said, adding "no major untoward incident has been reported from any part of the state."
LDF supporters took out protest demonstrations in different parts of the state as part of the agitation. Hundreds of activists took part in demonstrations braving heavy rains in some parts of the state.
Except for a few private vehicles and two-wheelers all modes of transport were off the roads, causing inconvenience to passengers who arrived at railway stations and airports unaware of the strike, called by LDF last evening.
Security had been tightened all over the state in view of the hartal.
The LDF has been on the agitational path for the past two weeks seeking to corner the government over the multi-crore solar panel scam which has brought the Chief Minister`s Office under a cloud.
The scam pertains to alleged cheating of several persons to the tune of crores of rupees by one Saritha Nair and her accomplice Biju Radhakrishnan by offering to get them solar panel solutions. Both have been arrested. An actress, Shalu Menon has also been arrested in connection with the case.
They have been charged with luring investors on the promise of getting solar panel solutions by stating that they had high-level connections in the government.
The scam took a serious political turn with the arrest of one of Chandy`s close personal aides, who has alleged links with the accused. Two other employees in his personal staff have also been removed in connection with the scam.
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