Opposition parties organised protests across the country on Monday against the Centre’s demonetisation move but normal life was not affected in most parts, except in Kerala and Tripura, two Left-ruled States.
The biggest protest was perhaps held in Kolkata, where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took to the streets against the Centre.
Leading a massive rally along a three-kilometre stretch in the city, Ms. Banerjee, who has sought a rollback of the demonetisation, vowed to “remove Narendra Modi from Indian politics.”
Draped in her trademark white cotton saree, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) chairperson said at the end of the rally: “Whether I live or die, I will make Indian politics free of Modi.” “Cashless, or faceless... we have a leader who is faceless and baseless,” she said, adding, “Even Hitler would not have thought of such a thing.”
After the rally, Ms. Banerjee left for Lucknow where she will hold protests over the next two days.
In Kerala, public transport was off the road while shops, markets and commercial establishments were shut, impacting both the formal and informal sectors.
Life comes to a halt in Kerala, Tripura
As the Opposition held countrywide protests against demonetisation on Monday, in Kerala the ruling Left Democratic Front, which had called the hartal, had exempted the tourism sector and banks from the strike. However attendance in banks was low and tourists had a difficult time moving around and getting food.
In Tripura, the 12-hour general strike call got a complete response with schools, colleges and shops remaining closed. There were clashes between CPI(M) and BJP workers in some parts of south Tripura.
But in the rest of the country, including the national capital, the ‘Jan Aakrosh’ did not disrupt normal life.
In Tamil Nadu, normal life was not affected during protests organised separately by the Left parties, the DMK and the Congress.
In all, 3,409 persons were detained in the morning from across five locations in Chennai and were freed by evening. Among those detained were Opposition leader M.K. Stalin and former Union Minister T.R. Baalu, both of the DMK. In Telangana, with the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the MIM, which has a significant influence over Hyderabad, staying away from the protests, there was little impact on the daily life of citizens.
While the Left and the Congress organised protests in various parts, most schools and colleges were open. Shops and establishments in commercial areas also functioned normally.
The same was the case in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Bihar. Opposition parties organised protests without disrupting life. In Lucknow, barring stray protest marches and poorly attended dharnas by the Congress and the Left, the protests received little support from the people. The Congress led the ‘Jan Aakrosh’ marches in Lucknow and other district headquarters with the party’s chief ministerial candidate, Sheila Dikshit, leading a march in Kanpur. In Bihar, the ruling party JD(U) stayed away from the protests but its alliance partners, the RJD and the Congress, took to the streets.