Mondayâ€™s state-wide dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the ruling LDF in Kerala against the RBI ban on co-operative banks accepting or exchanging demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes has hit normal life.
Milk, newspaper, hospitals, tourist vehicles, banks and other essential services are excluded from the hartal. Unlike earlier hartals in the state, this time around, even the state road transport corporation is not plying its buses, as the shut-down was called by the ruling party.
Attendance in government offices is almost nil. Except for a few private cars and bikes, private buses, taxis and autorickshaws remain off the road. Almost all shops except a few medical shops have downed their shutters.
Even though it was a state-wide shutdown, the organisers have left tourism activities and also the banking establishments out of the ambit of the call. They have also sought the pilgrims to the famed Sabarimala temple to be left unaffected by the shutdown.
Attendances in banks were poor, as vehicular traffic was affected.
The Pinarayi Vijayan-led government has also called the strike to protest the "rash" behaviour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who declined to meet an all-party delegation from the state which wanted to apprise him of the turmoil in the cooperative sector.
No hartal-related violence has yet been reported from the state.
The Congress-led Opposition in the state has however condemned the move, citing more inconvenience to the masses already reeling under the demonetization shocker.
The state Congress top brass hence prefers to stage a sit-in front of the Raj Bhavan -the Governorâ€™s official residence- for the lifting of the RBI ban.
It was on 08 November that the Centre had declared the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 as illegal tender with immediate effect. A couple of days later, the said RBI ban was slapped on 1600-odd primary cooperative societies, causing widespread resentment in the state.
The cooperative banking sector in Kerala is a three-tier system with about 1600 primary cooperative banks attached to 14 district banks, which are further linked to the apex Kerala State Cooperative Bank (KSCB).