Cong, BJP stage protests seeking CM's resignation

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Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 29 (PTI) The Congress and BJP on Thursday staged widespread protests across Kerala seeking the resignation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan after his former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate probing the money trail in the gold smuggling case.

The Congress and Yuva Morcha, the youth organisation of the BJP, staged protests in front of the state secretariat and a few activistsof the BJP's Mahila Morcha managed to enter the complex.

Police arrested and removed the activists from the north block area, where the chief minister's office is situated.

The opposition parties burned the effigies of the chief minister in various parts of the state and in some places, the police had to use water cannons todisperse theprotesters who tried to climb over the barricades.

Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Ramesh Chennithala sought the resignation of Vijayan and claimed the probe will reach the chief minister and that the senior IAS officer was just a pawn in the matter.

'...the real accused in the case is the chief minister.Kerala has not seen such a deplorable governance in its history.

Reports also say two other officials are under scanner of the probe agencies. How can the chief minister wash his hands off in this matter?' Chennithala said at a press meet.

BJP state chief K Surendran alleged two other ministers were also involved and that Sivasankar had threatened the customs officials.

'Sivasankar had contacted customs officials numerous times from his personal phone and his official number and threatenedthem.The Chief Minister should also be questioned.

Two other senior officials of the chief minister's Office have also contacted the gold smuggling gang.Two ministers are also involved,' Surendran said.

A court in Ernakulam district on Thursday granted the Enforcement Directorate seven day custody of Sivasankar, who was arrested last night.

Central agencies---National Investigation Agency, Customs and the Enforcement Directorate, are conducting separate inquiries into the seizure of gold worth nearly Rs 15 crore from a 'diplomatic baggage' at Thiruvananthapuram International airport on July 5.PTI RRT BN WELCOME BN WELCOME