The ongoing campaign by the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Democratic Front over solar panel scam turned violent on Sunday as protesters pelted stones at Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who suffered minor injuries on his forehead.
The incident occurred when the chief minister was approaching police grounds here to attend a function.
The protesters, who sneaked into the venue despite heavy security, stoned Chandy's car shattering its glass pane, splinters of which hit his forehead slightly above right eye. The incident sparked widespread condemnation from the Congress and its allies, whose leaders said the attack betrayed
"undemocratic approach" of the CPI-M and was not acceptable.
However, an unruffled Chandy attended the valedictory of the Kerala police athletic meet for which he had come to this politically volatile north Kerala town. Chandy was later checked up by doctors, who said the injury was not serious, the chief minister's spokesperson said.
Deploring the incident, Home Minister Thiruvanchur Radhakrishnan asked Director General of Police K S Balasubramanian, who was present at the venue, to furnish a report on the incident. Over the last few months, LDF has been staging protests wherever Chandy tours as part of its campaign demanding his resignation over the solar panel scam.
Security had been tightened here in view of Chandy's engagement with police being deployed in large contingents on all roads leading to the police grounds.
Police said a group of LDF workers, however, sneaked through some narrow lane to gain entry into the venue of the chief minister. Two LDF workers had been taken into custody from the spot.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the attack on Chandy was carried out with the knowledge of the LDF leadership. "The CPI-M leaders could not absolve themselves of what has happened in Kannur," Chennithala told reporters.
The LDF has been pressing for Chandy's resignation in the backdrop of solar panel scam, which pertains to financial cheating of several people by promoters of a private firm offering them solar energy solutions. It has been alleging that the fraudsters had the support of Chandy and his office. Though the government had ordered a judicial probe, the LDF refused to give up their demand.
Meanwhile, the LDF distanced from the attack holding that physically targeting the chief minister was not part of its campaign.
Marxist veteran and opposition leader in the Kerala assembly V S Achuthanandan said there was no justification for the incident at Kannur as the LDF had only called for peaceful and democratic agitation to press for its demand.
CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said LDF workers were not behind the incident. "Physically targeting Chandy is not on our agenda. The police should conduct an effective inquiry to identify the persons behind the attack. Anyway, we are not behind it," Vijayan told reporters.
CPI state secretary Panniyan Raveendran said LDF workers would not resort to such a course as the front had always made it clear that the agitation should be carried out in a democratic way.
The Congress has called a statewide protest meeting in all the 140 assembly constituencies in the state on Monday.
Speaking at a Congress party function in Kannur, Chandy said the Congress will not be weakened by violence that is being resorted to by the Marxist party. The LDF had been resorting to various modes of agitations particularly against the chief minister during the last several months, he said.
"I have been in public life for the last 50 years. I will go ahead with self-confidence," he said, adding, "Nobody can hide the truth. It will come out one day."
Referring to the stone-pelting incident in which he received injuries, Chandy said, "I take all problems in a positive manner." "Congress workers in Kannur district had been facing a lot of problems and the attack on me is nothing when compared to the hardships my party workers are encountering in the district," he said.
Chandy said the 'people mass contact programme' in Kannur district will be held on November 18.
Welcoming CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan's statement that the LDF has no connection with the incident, Chandy said if that statement was "sincere then it will be good for the CPI-M." Resorting to 'hartals' was not the style of the Congress, Chandy said.