Congress in Kerala says no to hartal

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 4 : In a major move, the Congress in Kerala on Saturday announced that they will no longer call for hartals (shutdown) in the state. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) Sudhakaran was responding to a question whether his party will call for a day-long shutdown in the state to protest the Rs 2 cess on petrol and diesel imposed in the budget announced on Friday by Finance Minister K.N.Balagopal. "Even without hartals, protests can be registered. From now on, our party will not call for hartals," he said. "We are now going to go forward organising massive protests across the state against the state budget and we will not call hartals again," added Sudhakaran. Incidentally, shut downs in Kerala are the biggest weapon used by political parties. When a bandh call is given by practically any political party, the state comes to a standstill and public vehicles and shops fail to do business. And this is a phenomenon limited to just Kerala as in the past when nationwide protests are called, barring Kerala, in the rest of the place normal life is rarely disrupted. One of the reasons why the Congress has decided against hartals is the Kerala High Court's order ast month directing attaching assests of the Popular Front of India activists. The PFI members were arrested for going on a rampage on September 23 in a flash shutdown called by them after the Centre banned them. The Court, after it was told that a damage of Rs 5.20 crore was caused, directed that bail should not be given if the damages are not recovered and if they do not pay up, their assets should be attached. The government has now informed the court the attachment has been done and is now wafting further orders from the court. /IANS


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