Thiruvananthapuram / New Delhi : All trade unions in Kerala have called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal in the state on Friday to protest against Anna Hazare’s statement on alcoholism. Anna’s views on drinking are very well known and he recently referred to the practise in his village to tie a drunkard to a pole and beat him, if he did not kick the habit and stop being a nuisance even after repeated warnings.
Spokespersons of INTUC and CITU told Tenali Rama that to make it an effective protest against Anna’s way of thinking, once the hartal ends at 6 pm, everyone in Kerala should go to the nearest wine or toddy shop and drink themselves silly. “Thank God it is Friday. So let us make Friday night an Onam night,” they said in chorus. Every year on Onam, Keralites consume huge quantities of liquor.
Punjab, Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh too have supported Kerala’s decision to oppose Anna. Tamilnadu bars have started laying off any bar attender whose nickname is `Anna’. Posters with slogans of `Make it large’ have appeared in many towns of Punjab though some proprietors in north India in their enthusiasm to cash in on the anger of the people have got their spellings wrong (see accompanying pic).
Meanwhile a TV channel carried a sting operation on former Team Anna member, Swami Agnivesh where he was seen talking to a person who he called Vijayji. “Vijayji, yeh to bilkul paagal ki tarah ho gaye hai, jaise koyi haathi,” Agnivesh is heard saying. The suspicion is that he was talking to Vijay Mallya, whose vast liquor empire could get affected if people heed Anna’s call to give up drinking. But Agnivesh insists he was speaking to Vijay Amritraj and the topic of discussion was how once again, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi were contemplating a split.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari has equated Anna Hazare with the Taliban and said this is proof that Anna is “Taliban from head to toe”. Taking objection to the remark, the RSS in a statement from Nagpur, has said Anna is 100 per cent Bharatiya and calling him Taliban is an insult to Indian and Hindu culture.
Actor Om Puri who called MPs names from Anna’s stage at Ramlila Maidan in August has now done an U-turn and announced withdrawal of support to Team Anna. Talking to reporters, the celebrated actor said “yeh anpadh aur ganwaar hai. They should know India is a democratic country where everyone has the right to drink.” When asked by reporters if he was inebriated while making the comments, Puri denied he was drunk and said “I have just flown back into Mumbai by Kingfisher, jahan pe to paani tak nahi poochte hain ji.”
(Twitpic by Gul Panag)