Street protests called by the Congress party on Saturday (February 4) engulfed Kerala to denounce the Left government’s budget proposal to levy cess on petrol, diesel and liquor and demand its rollback.
A group of Youth Congress activists waving black flags tried to jump in front of the official vehicle of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Kochi as his convoy emerged from the state-run guest house.
But the slogan-shouting agitators were stopped by the police and the Chief Minister’s convoy sped away. The demonstrators were taken away in a police vehicle.
The Congress observed Saturday as a “black day” across the state seeking reversal of the proposal to levy “social security cess” on fuel and liquor.
Several protests including marches and siege of petrol pumps were organised in many districts by the opposition party. The party vowed to continue with the protests.
M M Hassan, Convenor of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), attacked the LDF government and said the budget proposals amounted to waging war on the common people.
“This is the worst budget in the history of Kerala… It is nothing but looting of people,” he said in Thiruvananthapuram.
Congress General Secretary T U Radhakrishnan said party workers would march to district collectorates across the state on February 9.
On Friday, Finance Minister K N Balagopal said in his budget speech that the government proposed to levy a Social Security Cess on Indian Made Foreign Liquor and on petrol and diesel to supplement its financial resources.
Meanwhile, CPI (M) state Secretary M V Govindan slammed the media on the issue of fuel price hike.
He said the media kept mum when the BJP-led Central government hiked petrol and diesel prices to unprecedented levels.
“It was the Centre which had constantly increased the fuel price. It is the reason for the inflation,” he said.
Govindan said the cess on liquor, petrol and diesel was a budget proposal and not a final decision.
(With Agency inputs)