CONSOLIDATING THEIR CLOUT Kerala

It’s hartal season in Kerala

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CPI(M) and RSS-BJP compete to organise local level stirs as local bodies poll is just around the corner.

With the local bodies poll around the corner, it is hartal season again in Kerala. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-BJP combine appear keen on organising local-specific hartals to consolidate their political clout in the respective areas, ahead of elections to the local bodies two months from now. The Congress, however, can only watch since it leads the coalition government.

On Monday, several areas were hit by local hartals called by either the CPI(M) or the BJP. The CPI (M) hartals covered the Chunakkara, Vallikunnam, Thamarakkulam, Palamel and Nooranadu panchayats in Alappuzha district, besides Pandalam and Adoor in Pathanamthitta. The BJP too had given a call for a hartal in Palamel and Noornad. Eight local level hartals were observed in the State, with the CPI(M) sponsoring six and the BJP-RSS two. The ninth hartal will be staged in Idukki on Tuesday by the BJP.

The current rounds of hartals stem from clashes and retaliations involving the two parties in these areas. The “competition” during the Sri Krishna Jayanti celebrations, when their respective children’s outfits took out processions, only added to the simmering tensions. This is although the CPI(M), which had its own elaborate do on Sri Krishna Jayanti day mixing Karl Marx and Krishna, claimed later that it was just a part of its extended Onam celebrations.

There are more in the offing. The BJP has already given a hartal call in Idukki district for Tuesday in protest against the alleged attack on party workers during a strike by tea estate workers demanding a higher bonus. The CITU and the AITU are dominant forces in Kerala’s tea estates but the BJP has also been supporting Tamil groups such as the Viduthalai Chiruthakal in its bid to shake the traditional hold of these unions. Clashes and retaliations have become routine there.

With its strong stand on the Aranmula airport issue, the RSS-BJP combine expects to make inroads in adjoining panchayats of Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts. The area has been witness tostandoffs between the CPI(M) and the BJP, with the former trying its level best not give the latter a upper hand on the agitation against the Aranmula airport.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 9:28:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/its-hartal-season-in-kerala/article7625975.ece

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