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Kerala hardens stand against demonetisation

General strike called in state after delegation led by chief minister refused meeting with Modi

Gulf News

Thiruvananthapuram: As the final hours ticked by for the use of old Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes in India, political parties in Kerala, with the exception of the Bharatiya Janata Party, outlined the next phase of protests against the federal government’s demonetisation exercise.

Among the many plans is to hold a general strike across the state on Monday.

The development follows the denial of a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a team from the state led by the chief minister to discuss the demonetisation drive.

State chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan likened Modi to Mussolini and Hitler, and several other leaders also expressed dissatisfaction and surprise at the decision of the prime minister’s office to deny permission for the Kerala team to meet the PM.

The key point of disagreement between the state government and the federal government is with regard to the federal government’s assertion that co-operative financial institutions are repositories of unaccounted wealth. The co-operative sector has also been denied permission to exchange old notes for new ones.

In a related development, Malayalam cine star Mohanlal who had supported the demonetisation move, faced more wrath on social media, this time from Communist Party of India Marxist lawmaker in the state assembly, M. Swaraj. “Mohanlal has a right only to stand in front of the camera and speak nonsense and play the clown, but outside of films no one appreciates such comic roles”, Swaraj commented.

Swaraj said the actor had all the right to express his views, but added that when a man so widely respected as Mohanlal makes a comment, he should be “careful and vigilant”. Swaraj went on to ask if the actor would salute the PM who refused to meet a team headed by the state chief minister.

State BJP president, Kummanam Rajasekharan, however, criticised the political leadership in Kerala, stating that it “wasted an opportunity by refusing to meet the federal finance minister”. The team from Kerala had been directed by the prime minister’s office to meet the federal finance minister instead of the PM.