Assembly adjourned; UDF MLAs claim Sabha TV censored their protests

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Thiruvananthapuram: The opposition Congress-led UDF MLAs on Thursday staged a protest against the Left government's refusal to roll back tax proposals and social security cess on fuel and liquor announced in the budget.

Following this, members protested inside the assembly leading to the speaker adjourning the House for the day. The UDF-led opposition alleged that Sabha TV had censored their protests in the assembly.

The MLAs constituted a march against the State budget from MLA Hostel to the state Legislative Assembly to attend the budget session in Kerala Assembly in Thiruvananthapuram.

This comes after the Kerala Finance Minister said that government will not cut the cess imposed on fuel and liquor.

VD Satheesan opined that Pinarayi Vijayan was the leader who asked people not to pay taxes when he was the party secretary. However, he had forgotten what he said when he became the Chief Minister, Satheesan added.

During the protest, the opposition leaders said that they will continue the protest till the government change its decision.

To mark the protest opposition MLAs walked to the assembly.

Meanwhile, the youth wing of the Congress party today protested against the Kerala budget in Kochi and clashed with the police personnel who used water cannons to disperse the protestors.

The raging Congress workers also burnt the tyre in front of barricades placed to stop the protestors.

The police lathi-charged and used water cannons against the protestors which led to a scuffle between both groups.

Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan also hit out at the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government for not revoking the additional cess imposed on the prices of petrol and diesel in the "worst budget" he has ever seen in the Assembly.

The Congress leader said, "For the last few days we have been agitating inside and outside of the Assembly. Not only the opposition, but the general public also believes that the government will be forced to withdraw some of the taxes. Unfortunately, the government is not ready to pull down the taxes."

He claimed that all these taxes are unscientific, which will create more price hikes and derail the Kerala economy.

"This is a similar situation to the recession. At this time through the budget proposal, the government has to stimulate the economy but unfortunately it defunct the economic activities in Kerala. This over-taxation will create chaos in the economy of Kerala," he said, adding that this will affect the future of Kerala.

Satheeshan further added, "We will continue the agitation. On the coming February 13 and 14, the Union Democratic Front (UDF) declared a day and night strike state-wide."

The Kerala government is facing a heavy backlash from the general public after they presented the budget for the financial year 2023-24 on Thursday. The government proposed to increase petrol and diesel prices by Rs two per litre in the State.

As per people, the increase in cess on petrol and diesel will lead to a huge price hike. The prices of daily necessities have more than doubled in Kerala. Kerala Finance Minister KN Balagopal on February 2 presented the budget for the 2022-23 financial year in the legislative assembly. This Budget marks the third by Balagopal after he took over as the state's Finance Minister.

The Budget allocated Rs 2,000 crore to check inflation. Despite being a consumerist State, Kerala was able to control price hikes and the state witnessed the lowest price rise in the country, Balagopal said.

Petrol and diesel prices will be increased by Rs 2 per litre in Kerala, said the finance minister. The minister said that the Centre's assistance to the state had been reduced and a financial crunch is expected this year.

He further added though the state government is facing challenges due to the Central government's financial policies, Kerala is not in debt and the state has the financial position to take more loans.

( With inputs from ANI )

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