Four UDF MLAs will stage an indefinite 'satyagraha' in from of the Legislative Complex from Monday in protest against what has been termed the "worst ever Budget in Kerala history".
Three young Congress MLAs Mathew Kuzhalnadan, Shafi Parambil and C R Mahesh and Indian Union Muslim League's first-time legislator Najeeb Kanthapuram will undergo the 'satyagraha'.
"This is a budget that will heap a whopping Rs 4000 crore on the public," Opposition Leader V D Satheesan said while announcing the indefinite 'satyagraha' and staging a temporary walk out.
In addition to the two-rupee cess on petrol and diesel, the 2023-24 budget has sought to mobilise additional revenue from a series of hikes especially in the property and motor vehicle sectors.
Finance minister K N Balagopal, who shed his usual calm self, gave the impression that the government had no plans to reconsider any of the new impositions introduced through his latest budget. "A state government cannot progress saying it will never impose any taxes," an aggressive Balagopal said. "I cannot use the budget to get applause either," he said.
He then tore into the UDF questioning their track record on fuel prices. He said the Oommen Chandy government had increased petrol prices 17 times and diesel prices 11 times.
Balagopal said the existing sales tax rates on petrol (38.08 per cent) and diesel (22.76 percent) were lower than during the last UDF tenure. He also said that the Centre was already imposing Rs 30 and Rs 27 on a litre of petrol and diesel respectively as additional and special excise duties. "The UDF has no complaint regarding the BJP's policy of smothering states like Kerala. They are interested only in blocking the LDF Government's progressive policies," Balagopal said.