In December last year, when the BJP called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Kerala protesting the suicide of a man over the Sabarimala agitation, traders’ organisations and firms operating in the tourism sector had cried foul. They complained that the hartal, the saffron party’s fourth in three months, will cause irreparable losses to their businesses. In the backdrop of the hartal, they had undertaken a vow to boycott similar bandhs in the future.
As Kerala gets ready for a bandh yet again on Thursday, invoked by an RSS-backed outfit with the tacit support of the BJP over the entry of two women below the age of 50 at the Sabarimala shrine, trader outfits and tourism sector companies have made it clear that enough is enough. They have vowed to boycott Thursday’s bandh call citing their financial losses.
Kerala Tourism Task Force convener Abraham George, Kerala Travel Mart Society president Baby Mathew and Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry President EM Najeeb have urged the state government, the state’s chief political parties and other organisations to allow the smooth functioning of the tourism sector. The November-December months, being the peak season for the state’s tourism, could be heavily hit if tourism firms comply with another bandh. For a state already suffering hardships in the aftermath of the floods, another bandh could cause untold damage to the sector and the state’s coffers.
A six-point resolution was also passed at a joint meeting of 28 organisations to ensure the smooth functioning of tourist services.
The Kerala Vypari Vyavasayi Samithi, a Left-aligned trader outfit, and the Kerala Vyapara Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi (KVVES), which adopts an independent stand, has also affirmed to open shops during Thursday’s bandh.
T Naseerudeen, president of KVVES, told reporters in Kozhikode that traders in the state have nothing to do with the Sabarimala agitation and that such frequent shutdowns will do great harm to traders.