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Attendance normal at secretariat during Left siege: Home Minister

Attendance normal at secretariat during Left siege: Home Minister

Thiruvananthapuram: If attendance at government offices is an indicator of success or failure of the indefinite siege by Left volunteers at the state secretariat here, the State government appears to have had the last laugh as 67 percent employees reported for work Monday, the first day of the blockade.

Thousands of Left protestors Monday blocked three of the four gates of the state secretariat to press for Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's resignation in the "Solar scam" case.

The secretariat is the seat of the Kerala government. The Left opposition had announced that starting Monday, no one would be allowed to enter it until Chandy resigns for his alleged links to the "Solar scam".

State Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan told reporters at the secretariat complex that the attendance Monday was similar to what it was on normal days.

"It was unfortunate that because of the siege, NCC cadets could not reach the practice venue for the Independence Day parade. They had to practise on the roads. We thought CPI-M leaders would have allowed them," said Radhakrishnan.

Chandy and his cabinet colleagues held an emergency cabinet meeting Monday morning.

The protesters are staying within a three-km radius around the secretariat. At some places, skirmishes occurred between police and the protesters. CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan had to address the protesters to maintain calm.

"Police should be credited for exercising restraint. CPI-M leaders had said the protest would be peaceful," said Radhakrishnan.

Inaugurating the protest, CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda asked Chandy to quit in the wake of the scam by taking moral responsibility as his office was allegedly involved in it.

"Former railway minister P.K. Bansal quit after his nephew was found taking a bribe for making appointments in the Railway Board. At the centre, the UPA government is engaged in corrupt deals, while here the Chandy government is doing the same," said Karat.

The Left's action comes in the wake of the 'Solar scam', in which Saritha Nair and her live-in partner Biju Radkahrishnan allegedly defrauded people by offering solar energy solutions at huge discounts and not delivering. They allegedly used their clout in Chandy's office for duping people.

A total of 22 companies of central para-military forces, including the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), are in Thiruvanthapuram but are yet to be deployed.

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