Thousands of Communist party of India-Marxist workers in Kerala on Wednesday laid siege to the government secretariat during a protest that forced Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to reach his office around 5 am, hours before a cabinet meeting.
In an unusual spectacle at dawn in a state that is too used to bandhs and protests, Chandy and four ministers had to turn up at their offices an hour before the CPI-M siege began at 6 am against the Centre's 'failure' to check price rise and ensure food security.
Chandy and the four ministers arrived at 5 am for the cabinet meeting scheduled at 8 am and other colleagues joined them later, the CM's office sources said.
Besides the state secretariat, CPI-M workers also laid siege to district collectorates affecting their functioning. The workers squatted near all the four gates and the roads leading to the Secretariat, making it difficult for the office staff to enter the compound.
However, some of them managed to reach the office early with the help of the police. Police said adequate protection was given to collectorates, especially in nine districts where Courts were also functioning in collectorate premises.
Addressing the protestors before the Secretariat, CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said the skyrocketing prices and corruption were the fallout of the liberalisation and globalisation policies vigorously pursued by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre.
Referring to the coal block allocation scam, he alleged that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was 'prima facie guilty' in the matter. While the UPA government had been providing largess to corporates, it was cutting down subsidies on food items and fertilisers citing financial crunch, he said.
He also criticised the Congress-led United Democratic Front government in Kerala for failing to effectively intervene in the market and strengthen the public distribution system.
CPI-M leaders claimed that more than 15 lakh people took part in the agitation in 14 districts. The party workers also held demonstrations in various other centres.