Congress legislators protest fuel cess in the Kerala assembly
On Monday, February 6, four members of the Congress party initiated a indefinite demonstration in the legislative assembly’s lobby after the state budget was presented by the Kerala Finance Minister, K.N. Balagopal, which included a ₹2 fuel cess. This occurred when the session resumed following a holiday break.
The Congress legislators entered the assembly with signs and started shouting slogans during the Question Hour. The Leader of the Opposition, VD Satheesan, stated during the budget discussion that four legislators will persist with their indefinite demonstration in the assembly’s foyer until the minister retracts the Rs-2 cess outlined in the budget.
Youth Congress supporters arrived outside the assembly with a motorcycle, poured gasoline over it and ignited it as a form of protest against the fuel cess. The fire department promptly extinguished the fire.
Traffic in the state capital was disrupted for a period of three hours due to the protests and the police were forced to employ water cannons to disperse the demonstrators. Some of the participants in the protest were arrested.
Despite the protests, Balagopal defended the fuel hike, following a typical stance. He informed the assembly that the opposition is working in collaboration with the BJP, which is suffocating Kerala through its policies and unfortunately, the Congress has joined them.
— ANI (@ANI) February 7, 2023
“It is not possible to advocate for no taxes, as salaries, pensions, and the development of the state must progress,” said Balagopal.
The social media is full of discussion and criticism towards Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his government for the unjust fuel cess, considering that the Left party recently held a state-wide protest against the Central government’s fuel price hike.
Differences on this issue have also arisen within the ruling Left Front, with their ally, the Communist Party of India, expressing their dissatisfaction with the cess. However, they have decided to wait for Balagopal’s reply to the budget on Wednesday.
UDF to protest
The United Democratic Front (UDF) has decided to hold a day and night protest against the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government’s anti-people policies, including the proposals to increase taxes in the state budget. The decision was made during a UDF meeting held at the office of the opposition leader, VD Satheesan, at the Kerala Legislative Assembly on Monday.
The state Congress leadership intends to hold a major demonstration in front of the Secretariat and in other district collectorates on Tuesday. The UDF convener, M.M. Hassan, announced that a day and night protest will take place in front of the Secretariat on February 13.
The protest will start at 4 pm and continue until 10 am on February 14. Similar demonstrations will be held in the collectorates on these two days and will be inaugurated by the opposition leader, VD Satheesan, in front of the Secretariat.