CPM'sviolent overdrive destroys Kerala economy
By C. Kumar
It is bandhs and hartals time in Kerala. With the elections to the assembly round the corner, the CPM and the CPI which supports the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre have to convince the people that they are not with the Congress. Hence the general strikes and hartals at the drop of a hat. The interesting thing is that all general strikes called by the CPM since 1991 were against liberalisation, globalisation and anti-people policies of the government'sof the day! The general strikes offer the party an opportunity to rejuvenate the cadre though they put the common man to innumerable hardships.
Disgusted with bandhs and hartals which have become routine affairs in the state, Keralites are asking for ?people friendly bandhs?. Kerala saw 125 hartals and bandhs in 2004, which brought the state to a grinding halt on as many days. The recent hike in petrol and diesel has brought the organisers of the bandhs and hartals back to the centre stage with the state observing forced holidays in the name of hartals for three days.
?This is really a disturbing situation. Though people should have the right to protest, it should not be by upsetting the livelihood of others. No wonder, industrialists are refusing to invest in Kerala,? said Mr T.P. Sreenivasan, former Indian Ambassador to Austria who has settled down in Kerala after retirement.
?The one and only thriving industry in the state is bandh,? says Shri T Nair, a former captain in the Indian Army who shifted his business from Kozhikode in Kerala to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. ?It was the unreasonable demands by the workers union affiliated to the CPM and the frequent hartals which made me to shift to Coimbatore,? Shri Nair said.
Last week saw a general strike against the anti-people policies of the state and central governments. The entire state came to a standstill with all vehicles keeping off the roads and business establishments downing the shutters. The trade union leaders affiliated to various political parties like the CPM and the CPI claimed that the strike was a great success. ?It is not because of our solidarity with these trade unions that we down the shutters on hartal days. If we do not cooperate with them, they will take vengeance on us,? said Shri Sudhakaran, owner of a small grocery shop in Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district.
?The first four months of this year were comparatively peaceful. That could be due to the preoccupation of the CPM and CPI leadership with the Congress party leaders. With the party meetings over, they have to make their presence felt in a big way,? said Shri Gireesh, a software engineer in Thiruvanantha-puram. The capital city of Kerala has become a ?bandh zone? over the last one week thanks to the pitched battles between the volunteers of SFI and the police.
The police and the activists of SFI pelted stones at each other which culminated in the students throwing petrol bombs at the police from the University College campus recently. The SFI, student wing of CPM is agitating against the engineering and medical college admission counseling since their demand for a rationalisation of the fee structure has not been acceded to by the government.
?It is the common man and daily wage earners who suffer because of these hartals and strikes. The party leaders need not worry about their livelihoods because they are well taken care of,? alleges Shri Krishnan, a daily wage earner at Ernakulam. He says it is the Rs 100 which he earns as a daily wage worker. ?Who is going to compensate my loss?? asks Shri Krishnan.
The words of Dr Mridula Nair, head, department of Psychology, Mahatma Gandhi College, Thiruv-ananthapuram is an indication of the disgust and contempt the common man is having towards the bandhs and hartals. ?Let them observe the bandhs and hartals either on Friday or Monday so that we can have extended weekends. The general strikes on any other days are upsetting the whole rhythm of the week. The Monday and Friday hartals are people friendly too,? said Dr Nair. She says she does not have any ill feelings towards the organisers of the bandhs since that has become a thriving industry in the state.
Shri Elamarom Kareem, a prominent CITU leader in the state was quick enough to react to the suggestion for people friendly bandhs. ?Bandhs on Fridays will cause inconvenience to the believers who want to attend the namaz. But we can definitely consider the request for bandhs on Mondays,? said Shri Kareem. The Communists are quite ?well known? for their minority appeasement policies. Whether it is tsunami relief operations or bandhs and hartals, their vision is limited to the cause of only the minorities.
Some time back, a leading ?secular? daily put up an advertisement requesting for a kidney. There was a rider with the advertisement. The donor should be a Muslim. Perhaps, that may be the first advertisement of its kind in the world. The day is not far off when people will put up SOS messages for Muslim blood and Christian blood!