The Opposition United Democratic Front in Kerala is bent on organizing a hartal on February 19 to protest against price rise.
Haratal is today a weapon of political parties that lack constructive programmes and actions. Their self-centers cadres, who have joined politics for personal gains, cannot be mobilized for any mass action, without the political parties spending huge sums on them.
People often cite that Mahatama Gandhi organised the first haratls. However, a close look would show how different they were. The hartals called by Gandhiji was organised by volunteers without resort to violence. Now, it is fear of violence by often paid goons of the political parties that keep people away from their occupations.
Gandhiji knew that his hartals would hit the colonialists in the cities than the rural populace. The peasantry would be able to carry on with their occupations without interruption while the movement of goods and services needed by the colonialists would be hit.
Today, there is no colonialists to fight against, but only elected governments. The Opposition should win the support of the people and bid for power instead of harming the economy. Life in the twenty-first century needs 24-hour uninterrupted services. The hartal by the UDF will only contribute to price rise by halting production for a day.