Free Press Journal

Shutdown cripples normal life in Kerala


Thiruvananthapuram : The dawn-to-dusk shutdown called by the ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala on Monday crippled normal life as only private vehicles plied on roads and offices registered minimal attendance.

The opposition Congress, however, held a protest sit-in at the Raj Bhavan here.   While opposition parties called for nationwide protests on November 28 in different states after the November 8 demonetisation, the LDF led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist announced a shutdown in Kerala to denounce demonetisation that left state cooperative banks in turmoil.

Organisers of the shutdown had left tourism and banking establishments out of the purview of the bandh call.  Movement of pilgrims to the famed Sabarimala temple remained unaffected as their vehicles were allowed to move despite the shutdown.  Attendance in banks was poor as vehicular traffic and business took a hit.

The Pinarayi Vijayan-led state government had called the strike to also protest the “rash” behaviour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in declining to meet an all-party delegation from Kerala, which wanted to apprise him of the turmoil in the cooperative sector.

In Kerala, nearly 1,600 primary cooperative banks are attached to 14 district banks, which are linked to the Kerala State Cooperative Bank. Deposits in these cooperative banks total around Rs 1.27 lakh crore, Cooperation Minister A.C. Moideen said last week.  “The situation in Kerala is going from bad to worse… the entire system here is going to collapse,” said Finance Minister Thomas Issac, while launching a protest here in the state capital. The Congress-led opposition, however, expressed strong reservations over the shutdown.

Normal life has already turned topsy-turvy in the past 20 days due to demonetisation and further straining it is not the answer to the public woes, the Congress said.

As the opposition party staged the sit-in in front of the Kerala Raj Bhavan, top opposition leaders, including former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, courted arrest but was later let off.  Indian Space Research Organisation officials here worked under police security, as did IT employees at the Technopark here and at Kochi.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party supporters distributed sweets in Kasargode to all those who rode their vehicles amid the shutdown.

The shutdown, however, facilitated transportation of an organ for transplant from a brain dead person in Kozhikode to Kochi in almost two and a half hours, which was half of the normal time it would have taken otherwise.

A report from Agartala in Tripura, where also the Left parties are in power, said normal life was crippled in the northeastern state too due to a 12-hour shutdown to protest against demonetisation of high-value currency.                –IANS