Thiruvananthapuram, Aug. 13: The Left today withdrew its “indefinite siege” of the Kerala secretariat, launched yesterday to demand chief minister Oommen Chandy’s resignation over the solar panel scam, after he agreed to order a judicial inquiry.
The move surprised many amid questions over what the protest had achieved as the main demand, Chandy’s exit, had not been met.
The Left insisted only “one phase” of the “historic” strike had ended. “He (Chandy) will have to step down once the inquiry is ordered. We will continue boycotting him,” CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said.
Opposition leader V.S. Achuthanandan — seen as Vijayan’s party rival — termed the protest a “partial success”.
Chandy said his government would request the high court chief justice to spare a sitting judge. Asked if his office would come within the inquiry, Chandy said: “It is not the chief minister’s office, but what had happened, how the fraud was perpetrated. We would welcome suggestions from the Opposition on the terms of reference.”
Three of Chandy’s aides have been accused in the scam in which the proprietors of a solar energy firm are accused of duping people in the name of installing solar panels.
Chandy tried to calm tempers by thanking the protest leaders for the peaceful demonstrations but suggested he hadn’t agreed to the probe because of the siege that brought over 35,000 cadres to the streets. “I’m not discounting the protest but the government was ready for any probe even before that.”
The BJP slammed the withdrawal. “We believe there was some understanding between the CPM and the government,” state chief V. Muraleedharan said.