The opposition Congress continued to hold protests in Kerala on Saturday against the Left government’s budget proposal to impose cess on petrol, diesel, and liquor, demanding its rollback.
In Kochi, a group of Youth Congress activists attempted to jump in front of the official vehicle of the Chief Minister as his convoy emerged from the state-run guest house and waved black flags at him. However, the slogan-shouting agitators were stopped by the police and cleared the way for the CM’s convoy to move forward.
The protesters were later forcefully bundled into the police vehicle.
The Congress party observed Saturday as ”black day” across the state seeking reversal of the proposal to levy ”social security cess” on fuel and liquor.
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Several protest programmes including marches and siege of petrol pumps were organized under the aegis of various district congress committees (DCC).
According to party sources, protests would continue to be held by mandalam committees across the state in the evening.
M M Hassan, convenor of the Congress-led UDF, vehemently criticized the LDF government and said the budget proposals were a ”war cry” against the common people.
A decision on more intense protests would be taken in the next UDF meeting in this regard.
”This is the worst budget in the history of Kerala….It is nothing but the looting of people,” the leader added.
KPCC general secretary T U Radhakrishnan said party workers would take out marches to district collectorates across the state on February 9 under DCCs.
Presenting the budget on Friday, Finance Minister K N Balagopal had said that it was proposed to levy a Social Security Cess on Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and on the sale of petrol and diesel as the commitment to continue protecting the decent lives to vulnerable sections of society require supplementing the financial resources.
Meanwhile, CPI (M) state secretary M V Govindan slammed the media when they asked about the upcoming hike in the fuel price in the state following the government’s decision to impose a cess on its sale.
He charged that the BJP-led union government had hiked the petrol and diesel price to an exorbitant rate and the media was ‘silent’ over it.
”It was the Centre which had constantly increased the fuel price. It is the reason for the inflation,” he claimed here.
Govindan also indicated that the cess on liquor, petrol, and diesel was just a budget proposal and not a final decision.