Hartal in Kerala on Monday as LDF escalates demonetisation protests

LDF convenor Vaikom Viswan said that milk booths and banking services will be exempted from the hartal


Kerala opposition parties to protest countrywide against the demonetisation of high-value notes. Photo: Reuters
Kerala opposition parties to protest countrywide against the demonetisation of high-value notes. Photo: Reuters

Bengaluru: Kerala’s Left Democratic Front (LDF) on Thursday called for a dawn-to-dusk shutdown in the state on 28 November, when opposition parties across the country protest countrywide against the demonetisation of high-value notes.

The state’s ruling coalition and opposition—except the Bharatiya Janata Party—are upset at the ban on accepting and exchanging withdrawn notes at cooperative banks, where work has come to a standstill.

In a statement made after a state secretariat meeting of the coalition of communist parties held in capital Thiruvananthapuram, LDF convenor Vaikom Viswan said that milk booths and banking services will be exempted from the hartal.

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This is the first time LDF is organizing a general strike after coming to power in the state. Although many people on the state including the opposition United Democratic Front agree with the left front government over the need to resolve the crisis in the cooperative banks, there are differences about how to go about it.

Speaking to television reporters in Delhi, Kerala’s opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala distanced his party, Congress, from the hartal. Instead of joining the hartal, all Congress legislators from Kerala will picket the premises of Raj Bhavan, he said. “We had initially thought about a hartal. But considering that the people are already suffering much, we didn’t want to add more to their burden,” he said.

Previously, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had courted a controversy when he sought support on facebook for a nationwide strike called by central trade unions on 2 September, just a day after he accused government officials of inefficiency. On Wednesday, Vijayan had expressed strong displeasure with the central government, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi refused to meet an all-party delegation from the state.

The state assembly which met on Tuesday had adopted a resolution to relax the curbs on cooperative banks and credit societies following demonetisation. It was agreed that an all-party delegation should go to Delhi on Thursday and meet the PM and discuss the crisis in the cooperative sector after the rolling out of demonetisation.

However, the prime minister’s office did not give an appointment and directed the state delegation instead to meet Union finance minister Arun Jaitley. “May I remind Shri @narendramodi ji of his republic day speech as CM (guj) regarding Co-operative federalism. more of a slogan than reality,” Vijayan tweeted after the press meet.

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