Opposition Congress led UDF members on Monday staged a walkout in the Kerala Assembly after the Speaker refused to allow an adjournment motion on the hardship caused to people due to the ruling LDF’s second bandh over petroleum price hike within 10 days.
Raising the issue, Congress deputy leader G. Karthikeyan said a second bandh on the same issue was “unheard of” in the country. Chief Minister Manik Sarkar of Left ruled Tripura was “prudent enough” not to back a second bandh in his State, he said.
Today’s hartal by CPI(M) and BJP was the “launch pad” for the Left, who were aiming at a future alliance with the saffron party, he alleged.
He demanded that the State government forgo the additional tax revenue from increase in the price of petroleum products.
In his reply, Chief Minister Achuthanandan said the ruling Front was not “apologetic” about calling for a second hartal in 10 days as the hike had resulted in increase in prices of essential commodities, hitting the common man.
He said the agitation would be stronger when people suffered on account of price rise. “It is a reflection of people’s anger,” the Chief Minister said.
Mr. Achuthanandan said Kerala had witnessed 13 State-wide hartals in the last four years of LDF rule, of which the ruling front called for it only twice. BJP had called for hartals six times, CPI—ML once, UDF twice and others twice, he said.
Mr. Achuthanandan said no untoward incident had been reported today from any part of the State.
Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy said the LDF had not shown a sense of propriety as the Tripura Chief Minister, who decided against a second bandh.
He also said the “double standards” of CPI(M) had been exposed with members of the ruling Front attending the Assembly session. “While you ask workers to keep away from work, the CPI(M) legislature party leader is issuing a whip to its MLAs to be present in the Assembly,” Mr. Chandy said.
Mr. Chandy said the CPI(M), which had forged alliance with Jan Sangh in 1977 and BJP in 1989 at the national level, was now trying another political tie-up with the party. “Congress is the only party which had never had a political alliance with the saffron party,” he said.
If price rise was the reason for two bandhs on the same issue, the Opposition UDF should have called for a number of them against the State government. “The LDF has held people hostage using power,” he said.