A scene from protest site / Photo: Screengrab from Mathrubhumi News
Thiruvananthapuram: Protest marches taken out by the opposition Congress activists against the Kerala government's budget proposal to impose fuel cess turned violent in many places, forcing police to use water cannons and teargas shells to disperse agitators.
A large number of party workers, under the aegis of District Congress Committees, marched to the Collectorate in 13 districts seeking the rollback of the proposal to impose 'social security cess' on the sale of petrol and diesel.
In Thiruvananthapuram, the march was taken out to the Secretariat, the administrative hub.
Angry protesters raised slogans against the Left government and tried to jump the barricade in Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kottayam, following which the police had to use water cannons. Party workers pushed down police barricades in Kollam district.
Agitators allegedly pelted stones and plastic water bottles at the police in many places during minor scuffle.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly V D Satheesan who inaugurated the march in the state capital, rejected the government's argument that the cess is imposed to ensure uninterrupted distribution of monthly social security pension of the weaker sections in the state.
"Giving pension and salary is the responsibility of a government...and common people cannot be burdened to find ways for that. It is nothing but tax terrorism and looting of commoners," he said addressing the party workers.
Later in the Assembly, Satheesan said the budget, presented by Finance Minister K N Balagopal last week, was the "worst budget" in the history of the southern state.
Stating that the budget turned out to be another disaster like the COVID pandemic and the deluge which had fallen upon people of the state, he also said an additional liability of Rs 4,000 crore has been imposed upon them by the government through this.
Unscientific tax proposals would derail the state's economy and affect the lives of common people, the LoP added.
Meanwhile, the sit-in protest at the entrance of the state Assembly, being carried out by four Congress-UDF MLAs Shafi Parambil, Mathew Kuzhalnadan, Najeeb Kanthapuram and C R Mahesh entered the second day.
Presenting the budget, the Finance Minister had said on Friday 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 of vulnerable sections of society.
The budget has proposed a Social Security Cess on sale of petrol and diesel at the rate of Rs 2 per litre. PTI