Barbers to boycott Congress leaders - The Times of India HYDERABAD: If you spot a man with an unshaven face and sporting long hair in the coming days, the chances are that he could be a Congressman. Reason: the 15 lakh-odd barbers in the state have decided to stop servicing Congress leaders. This is in protest against the Congress state government not lending a sympathetic ear to their long-pending demand on power supply to barber shops. For the last decade, barbers have been demanding that they be categorized as domestic consumers and tariff at commercial rates not be levied on them. What triggered the boycott call now is the recent increase in power tariff that has seen electricity bills jump two to three-fold. "Our long pending request has been turned down by the Congress government. So we have decided to stop shaving and cutting the hairs of the Congress leaders from now on. A decision to this effect was taken at our meeting held on Tuesday," declared Enukonda Subramanyam, president of the Andhra Pradesh Nayee Brahmin Seva Sangam, the apex body of barbers. When asked how barbers would recognize Congressmen, he said that all of them knew regular customers and identification would not be a problem. There are about 16,000 barber shops in the state providing employment to nearly 15 lakh barbers. The recent power tariff hike has made their life difficult with the unit cost of power zooming to over Rs 7 to Rs 9 per unit from the earlier Rs 3 per unit. The Nayee Brahmin Seva Sangam said it has already informed its members not to entertain Congress leaders in their shops in protest against the steep power charges imposed on them. The state government has been granting concessions to some professionals like goldsmiths, blacksmiths, washermen and barbers by supplying power to their establishments at domestic consumer rates. However, in 2003, the barbers were deleted from the list. The barbers claim that Congress leader Y S Rajasekhara Reddy had inked their demand to include them in the concession list in the 2004 election manifesto, but this was not honoured after it came to power. "However, we continued to believe in the Congress and voted for the party in the 2009 elections as well. In fact, we were told that YSR had cleared the file. But nothing happened in the end, hence the decision to boycott the Congress leaders," said Tolichukka Narasimha, vice president of Greater Hyderabad Nayee Brahmin association. The associations had even filed representations with the AP Electricity Regulatory Commission (APERC) requesting that they be shifted at least to the LT-cottage industry category if not residential. Nayee Brahmin association representative DV Nagendra Rao also appeared at public hearings to make out a case that as a profession, barbers should be given concessional treatment. But all that fell on deaf ears and hence this extreme step.