UDF legislators led by V. D. Satheeshan, Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly, arrive at the Assembly on bicycles to protest against the state government's refusal to slash sales tax on fuel. Photo:PTI
Thiruvananthapuram: Intensifying their agitation demanding the cut of state tax on petrol and diesel, the opposition Congress-UDF legislators on Thursday took out a bicycle rally to the Kerala Assembly and later boycotted the House proceedings protesting over the LDF government's reluctance to discuss the matter in the House.
After trooping out of the House, they also staged a protest sit-in at its portals and raised slogans against the state government for rejecting their demand for discussing the topic during the zero hour.
Last week also the UDF had staged a walkout in the Assembly urging the Left government to forgo the additional tax on fuel products on the lines of the Centre to ease the burden of the common people.
However, the Left government maintained that it was unable to slash the tax as it would adversely impact the welfare initiatives of the state due to the grim financial situation.
Earlier in the day, Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan led the protest cycle rally of his legislator colleagues from the nearby MLA Hostel attached to the assembly complex.
Wearing masks and donning the usual khadi dhoti and shirt, they could be seen pedalling the 'poor man's vehicle' through the busy city road to reach the main entrance of the Assembly.
When the House proceedings commenced and zero hour began, K Babu (Congress) sought a notice for an adjournment motion over the issue saying that common people were in a crisis due to the frequent fuel price hike and the state government's stand not to reduce tax was a challenge against them.
Hitting out at the Pinarayi Vijayan government, Satheesan said the central government had made a nominal reduction in the fuel tax and many other states made proportionate decrease on its lines.
However, Kerala, which levies the highest tax, was not prepared to slash it and the state government was amassing additional income through that.
Stating that the opposition protest was against the 'tax terrorism', he said if the government was not ready to forgo the additional tax, they would go ahead with mass agitation.
However, Finance Minister K N Balagopal reiterated that his government had not increased the state tax on petrol and diesel for the last six years and it had reduced it once.
He also criticised the previous Congress-led UPA regimes at the Centre for handing over the control of fuel price to the oil companies and the party-led Oommen Chandy government in the state for raising fuel tax 13 times.
Taking at dig at the UDF MLAs' bicycle protest, the Finance Minister advised them to go New Delhi with a bullock cart to reduce the central tax.
When Speaker M B Rajesh rejected leave for the motion based on the minister's reply, the opposition boycotted the House.
The Congress-UDF has been staging protests across the state for the last several days demanding the slashing of state tax on petrol and diesel.