New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram: Accusing the Centre of being "anti-poor", non-BJP parties on Monday hit the streets across the country to protest against scrapping of high currency notes disrupting normal life in Left-ruled states of Kerala and Tripura where a bandh was observed.
As the Centre's demonetisation drive completes three weeks, the protests were staged as part of the opposition's 'Jan Aakrosh Divas'.
Terming as "flop show" the nation-wide strike and protest calls given by the opposition parties, the BJP said people have rejected both as they have no faith in "tainted" parties behind them.
While the Left constituents called a 12-hour bandh, other parties including Congress and Trinamool Congress only held protests. Janata Dal(United) and Biju Janata Dal did not participate in the protests. Hundreds of workers from various Opposition parties, led by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam(DMK), were arrested when they staged protests across Tamil Nadu. The parties slammed the ban on Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes as a "war on rural poor" that was causing "hardship" to the common man.
DMK Treasurer M. K .Stalin, state secretaries of CPI-M and CPI G, Ramakrishnan and R. Mutharasan respectively, along with a several workers of their parties were among those arrested when they staged protests separately in front of central government offices and nationalised banks, police said.
During their protest in the national capital, seven Left parties including the CPI(M) and CPI decried the invalidation of old currency notes as "anti-poor and pro-corporate" and demanded that the government let people use these notes until it makes new notes available.
Gwalior district Congress President Darshan Singh died of cardiac arrest in Gwalior soon after submitting a memorandum during the 'Jan Aakrosh Diwas' protest. Gwalior Divisional Commissioner S. N. Roopla said Singh was part of a Congress delegation which came for submitting the memorandum to him.
In Kerala, the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF sponsored 12-hour strike against demonetisation evoked a near total response. Shops and business establishments downed shutters and state- run KSRTC and private buses kept off the roads across the state in response to the strike which began at 6am.
The Left Democratic Front took out marches at various places with state CPI-M Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan here attacking the Centre for causing 'hardship' to the people in the name of its crackdown on black money. The Opposition Congress-led UDF, which did not participate in the hartal, took out a march to the Raj Bhavan instead to register its protest against the Centre's decision to scrap high value notes and consequent crisis in the state's cooperative sector.
Ruling Congress in Karnataka held protests and rallies throughout the state against demonetisation. The protest affected the functioning of both the Houses of Karnataka Legislature, now in a 10-day winter session at Belagavi, as they did not sit on Monday in line with the decision taken by the Business Advisory Committee (BAC). Life in Bengaluru and elsewhere remained normal with commercial establishments, educational institutions, banks and private offices working as usual and public transport and Metro maintaining their regular services.
The state-wide 12-hour strike called by Left parties to in West Bengal failed to evoke much response. Government and private buses, trams and other private vehicles were seen plying on the road while most of the shops and markets were open. The strike call by the Left Front has been opposed by the ruling TMC.
Train services of Eastern Railway in Sealdah and Howrah sections, besides Metro Rail services were also normal. Normal life was hit in Left-ruled Tripura with schools, colleges and shops remaining closed and vehicles staying off the roads. However, banks were open as they were out of the purview of the bandh.
In Maharashtra, Congress and NCP hit the streets though normal life remained unaffected with no disruption to public transport or functioning of offices and businesses in Mumbai and other parts.