No public transport is available on the roads of Kerala on Monday, September 27, as two major political fronts in the state are supporting the Bharat bandh, in solidarity with the farmers’ protest. The farmers had called for a nationwide Bharat bandh for Monday, to mark a year since the Union government passed the contentious farm laws. In Kerala, both the Left ruling government and the Congress-led opposition are supporting the protest.
Public transport, especially Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus services, was unavailable as almost all trade unions in the state were participating in the hartal, and people who had to travel opted for private modes of transport while others stayed home. However, trade unions said that private vehicles will be allowed to pass without any hindrance. The INTUC (Indian National Trade Union Congress) state president R Chandrasekharan on Saturday said that the state-wide hartal would be peaceful and there would be no blocking of vehicles or forced shutting down of shops.
On Monday, vehicles were seen moving across busy roads in Thiruvananthapuram. Police were deployed near the Raj Bhavan in Kowdiar where protest meetings were held in the morning. Though essential services were allowed, many shops including restaurants and eateries were closed for the day.
Private vehicles on a road in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday
While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had termed the hartal as "anti-people", the party's state General Secretary George Kurian said that trade unions affiliated with it will neither support the strike nor openly oppose it.
Kochi businessman Kochouseph Chittilappilly, who is vocal about social issues, posted against the hartal in Kerala, calling it the state's "festival".
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, spearheading the anti-farm agitation, announced the Bharat bandh for September 27 aimed at further strengthening and expanding the farmers' agitation which began in November last year. The protesting farmers have been demanding the repeal of the laws, which they are afraid will do away with the MSP (Minimum Support Prices) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations.
(With PTI input)