Normal life was hit across the state after BJP called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal demanding the resignation of Finance Minister K M Mani who is facing bribery charges in the bar licence controversy.
Although no violent incident was reported from anywhere in the state so far, functioning of offices and vehicular movement were affected in the state. Reports said functioning of IT parks and construction of Kochi metro were disrupted in the hartal.
Since the hartal came after a weekend and Republic Day, people remained indoors. However, passengers from long distance trains got stranded in railway stations for want of conveyance. BJP took out marches in all assembly constituencies demanding Mani’s resignation.
For Mani’s home town and constituency Pala in Kottayam, Tuesday’s hartal is the third in last five days. On Friday, Congress-led United Democratic Front observed a hartal in Pala expressing solidarity with Mani in the bar bribery issue. On Saturday, the LDF stepped in another hartal in Pala, demanding that Mani should go. The Pala region remained shut for next two holidays; Sunday and Republic Day. On Tuesday, Pala is observing the third hartal.
Mani, chairman of Kerala Congress (M), has been facing allegation that he had taken bribe to renew licence of bar hotels. The other day, CPI (M) had threatened that their men would not allow Mani to attend public functions. The Opposition has been demanding that Mani should not be allowed to present the state budget.
Meanwhile,, prominent upper class Hindu Nair outfit Nair Service Society has extended support for Mani, a Catholic politician. NSS general secretary G Sukumaran Nair said Mani is a friend of his community organisation. He need not quit on the basis of bribery allegations.