Chief Minister Oommen Chandy rules out resignation; LDF calls Kerala hartal on Wednesday


Thiruvananthapuram: As opposition LDF mounted pressure over the solar panel scam which has brought his office under a cloud, an unshaken Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Tuesday firmly rejected the demand for his resignation and dismissed charges against him as 'a political conspiracy'.
Rejecting opposition charges, Chandy told the assembly that the ruling United Democratic Front was united on the issue and would not succumb to political conspiracy.
Chandy's stand sparked instant protest by LDF inside and outside the state Assembly, which was adjourned sine-die after passage of Finance Bill without discussion amid pandemonium following opposition demand for his resignation.
On a day of high-drama, a meeting of the Left Democratic Front held in the evening gave a call for a 12-hour hartal in the state tomorrow besides announcing a series of protests over the next two weeks to press its demand.
The meeting also decided to hold a 24-hour dharna before the state secretariat with the participation of its MLAs and MPs on July 22 besides public meetings and marches LDF Convenor Vaikom Viswam told reporters.
Earlier, LDF supporters clashed with police near the secretariat complex forcing police to fire teargas shells.
CPI-M veteran and Opposition leader V S Achuthanadan felt uneasiness after a teargas shell burst near the place where LDF MLAs were staging a sit-in. The 89-year old leader was taken to hospital for observation, party sources said.
The teargas was used to disperse activists of CPI-M's student wing SFI and other opposition outfits. Senior CPI leader and former state minister C Divakaran MLA too felt uneasy after inhaling tear gas.
Police arrested and removed a number of activists who tried to enter the high-security secretariat complex here.
Even as Opposition intensified its agitation for his removal, Chandy received support from Defence Minister A K Antony who ruled out any change in the state government.
"There is no political crisis in the state. None need to think that there will be a change of government,' he said in Alappuzha, signalling Chandy would not resign on the issue.
"When the solar allegations cropped up, the government had ordered investigation. Let the investigation be over. There are laws and courts. The investigation process is going on, Now the opposition is unleashing violence and trying to force the Chief Minister to resign. That will not happen. There is no political crisis", Antony said.
A leadership meeting of UDF held Monday night also extended full support to Chandy saying that government would not yield to LDF pressure.
In the assembly, LDF tried to corner Chandy, armed with yesterday's statement of Sreedharan Nair, the complainant in the solar panel case, that he had met Chandy to discuss the solar project along with the scam accused Saritha Nair.
C. Divakaran (CPI) said "there is no other way for Chandy than to quit, if he has any iota of political morality".
Strongly refuting the Opposition charges, Chandy maintained he met Sreedharan Nair as a representative of quarry owners association and he did not discuss the solar project.
Sreedharan had told local TV channels on Monday that he had met Chandy on July 9 last year and discussed the project when Saritha was present.
The scam pertains to alleged cheating of several persons to the tune of crores of Rupees by Saritha and her accomplice Biju Radhakrishnan by offering solar panel solutions.
It 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.
With slogan shouting by opposition members continued, Speaker G Karthikeyan took up other business and adjourned the assembly sine die after the Chief Minister moved a resolution stating that it had become difficult to continue the session, slated till July 18, in view of opposition protest.
In a related development, a court in Thrissur posted to July 11 for orders a petition seeking a vigilance inquiry into the alleged role of Chandy, Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan and others in the scam and their links with Saritha Nair and Biju Radhakrishnan.
When the petition filed by social activist George Vattukulam came up before Inquiry Commissioner and Special Judge (Vigilance) K Haripal, the government advocate submitted that already three accused in the scam had been arrested and remanded to judicial custody by another court and opposed any intervention by the vigilance court at this juncture.
BJP Kerala unit President V. Muraleedharan said his party would also intensify its agitation to press the demand for Chandy's resignation.
Talking to reporters at Kozhikode, Muraleedharan said the footage of the CCTV at the CMO should be made public in the wake of Sreedharan Nair's statement that he had met Chandy to discuss the solar project along with Saritha Nair.

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