The dawn-to-dusk harthal called by the LDF and the UDF against the rising fuel price has remained total across Kerala.
Public transport vehicles remained off roads and shops and other establishments remained closed. Attendance in offices was poor and the Secretariat saw a mere 16 per cent people attending office. The harthal was generally peaceful.
However, petrol and diesel prices were up again today, the day of the harthal across the country. Kerala Women's Council member Shahida Kamal’s car was blocked by a section of agitators in Kollam. She was said to be on her way to the convent where the body of a nun was found in a well. She alleged that UDF activists attempted to manhandle her.
Despite opposition from certain sections within the UDF against the harthal, especially with Parur legislator VD Sateeshan saying he would not be party to the agitation, the harthal was total in Parur. Though both the fronts had said flood relief operations would be spared, locals said construction of houses damaged in the flood was not happening on Monday. This was owing to workers being away on Sunday as it was a holiday and unable to reach workplaces today due to harthal.
Congress leader Oommen Chandy walked some 4 km to the MLA Quarters and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should remember that his party came to power after leading protests against price rise. Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala demanded bringing fuel under GST.
Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said that while the State Government decided to spare consumer early this year by foregoing the State share of the fuel tax, it was not possible anymore, especially in the wake of the enormous loss the recent flood inflicted on the State.