Kerala cabinet holds anti-centre agitation in Delhi (Lead)

October 17th, 2008 - 7:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 17 (IANS) Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan Friday led his cabinet colleagues and ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) legislators to an agitation near parliament against the alleged negligence meted out towards state by the central government. Sixteen ministers, 70 legislators and the Left MPs from Kerala participated in the protest march and sit-in inaugurated by Achuthanandan and addressed by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat, Communist Party of India deputy general secretary Sudhakar Reddy and other senior Left leaders.

Inaugurating the sit-in at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, Achuthanandan urged the central government to restore the rice quota for the people belonging to the Above Poverty Line (APL) category in the state, set up railway zone for Kerala, set up an Indian Institute of Technology in the state and restore the share of electricity from central pool.

“The strong statutory rationing system prevalent in the state is now at stake due to reduction of central quota,” he said.

“There was an allocation of 113,420 tones of rice per month for distribution to APL card holders up to March 2007. This was reduced to 21,334 tones from April 2007 to 17,056 tonnes in April 2008 and has completely stopped since September this year,” Achuthanandan said.

The chief minister said the share of electricity from the central pool has also been reduced considerably.

“Putting the state into a severe power crisis, the share of electricity from the central pool has gone down to 667 MW in August this year. The state is to get 1,188 MW electricity per month from the central pool,” he said.

Rejecting the claim by Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi that he and Defence Minister A.K. Antony as union ministers helped Kerala to get sanctioned Vizhinjam port, Achuthanandan said: “It is purely the LDF (Left Democratic government’s project and the effort to get sanction was made the state government only.”

“Now they are pasting posters on walls in the state claiming that the project was sanctioned due to their efforts… Let them do so.. we don’t have any problem,” he told the media after concluding the agitation.

Offering his full support to Kerala’s cause, Prakash Karat urged the union government to re-write centre-state relations.

“A joint platform of more states would be formed to check the excess intervention of the centre in the affairs of states,” he said.

CPI-M politburo member Sitaram Yechury and CPI leader Sudhakar Reddy said the Left party MPs would raise the Kerala government’s genuine concern in both houses of parliament in the ongoing session.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in state assembly Oommen Chandy led a similar protest in front of the state secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram against the “poor governance” of the state government.

Chandy said while inaugurating the sit in that what Achuthanandan was doing in Delhi “will show Kerala and its citizens in poor light”.

The Congress alleged close to Rs.30 million has been spent by Achuthanandan to stage the protest in Delhi.

State secretary of the CPI-M Pinarayi Vijayan lashed out at the opposition and said that they too should have joined the team led by Achuthanandan and should have expressed their feelings in Delhi.

“They have no guts to express their feelings in Delhi and instead they are joining hands with the central government to make life miserable for people here,” said Vijayan while inaugurating a sit-in of Left activists in front of the Kerala governor’s residence in Thiruvananthapuram.

Chandy, however, said the “drama being enacted in Delhi is to cover up the state government’s lack of effective governance”.

“You should know that when they say the central government has cut the ration, they have actually sold rice that has to be given for free and what they are doing in Delhi is a blot on Kerala,” said Chandy.

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