THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Hours after giving a hartal call on October 13 to protest "anti-people policies" of the Centre and state government, the Congress-led UDF in Kerala tonight deferred it, in the wake of criticism for holding it during the Under -17 FIFA world cup in Kochi.
UDF chairman and state opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said in a statement that the party was deferring its protest from October 13 to 15 in view of the FIFA world cup at Kochi
He said there had been demands from various quarters to and criticism for giving a hartal call on October 13 when an international football event would be held.
Earlier, at a press conference in Malappuram, Chennithala had said the protest was against the "frequent" hike in prices of petroleum products and drawback in implementation of GST.
Attacking the CPI-M-led LDF government in the state, he alleged that the state government was not taking any steps to ease the people's hardship caused by fuel price increase.
"Hartal has been called as life has become difficult in Kerala," Chennithala said.
Taking a dig at state Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac, who had welcomed GST at the time of implementation, he said id "Isaac was one of the persons who had hailed the GST even more than Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Now he should explain to people following the rise in prices of goods."
Price of all essential commodities have gone up, he alleged and said it has become difficult to have food from hotels and restaurants.
Chennithala rejected the BJP charge that Kerala has become a "fertile soil" for jihadi terrorism, and said "people of the state are known for high cultural values."
The only problem in the state is the "political violence unleashed by BJP and CPI-M," he said.
Chennithala also hit out at the ongoing Jana Raksha Yatra, launched by BJP chief Amit Shah yesterday and led by BJP state president Kummanom Rajasekharan.
Referring to the hartal, Chennithala said in Ernakulam district, it will be only till three pm in view of the Fifa under-17 world cup. Instructions have been given to ensure that specators were not disturbed, he added.
The centre had yesterday cut excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 2 per litre to moderate the relentless rise in fuel prices witnessed for the last three months.