Normal life was hit in Kerala on Monday as the ruling CPI-M led LDF sponsored 12-hour strike against demonetisation evoked a near total response. Shops and business establishments downed shutters and state-run KSRTC and private buses kept off the roads across the state in response to the strike which began at 6 AM. The Left Democratic Front took out marches at various places with state CPI-M Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan in Thiruvananthapuram attacking the Centre for causing ‘hardship’ to the people in the name of its crackdown on black money.
The Opposition Congress-led UDF, which did not participate in the hartal, took out a march to the Raj Bhavan instead to register its protest against the Centre’s decision to scrap high value notes and consequent crisis in the state’s cooperative sector. The UDF protesters were arrested, police said. Banks functioned with reduced staff strength, while attendance in the state Secretariat and various government offices was thin, reports received here said.
Two wheelers and private cars were seen plying, while auto-rickshaws too kept off the roads at most places. With the Sabarimala pilgrim season on, Ranni, Chittar, Seethathode panchayats in Pathanamthitta district and Erumeli panchayat in Kottayam district have been exempted from the strike as also Tripunithura and Chottanikkara in Ernakulam where local temple festivities are on. Tourist vehicles have also been exempted from the hartal.
Police vehicles helped in transporting railway passengers and patients coming from far off places to the Regional Cancer Centre. The LDF took out a march from General Post office to Secretariat. Addressing the workers, Balakrishnan, slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing the centre was helping the black money hoarders.
In the name of acting against black money, the Centre had in fact pushed the country and its people into problems, he said. “There is a financial emergency in the country. Due to demonetisation, the economy has collapsed with the withdrawal of 85 per cent currency notes on a single night,” he said.
Since November 8, more than 75 persons had died following the Centre’s decision to withdraw Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes, he said. Kodiyeri also took a swipe at the Congress saying it was functioning as the BJP’s ‘B’ team.