THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : The Congress-led opposition on Wednesday walked out of the Assembly, accusing the Kerala government of work with the Centre to "fleece" people through increased fuel prices even when international prices were at a low.
Leader of Opposition and Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala led the opposition walk-out on the last day of the Assembly session after Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan refused their demand for a discussion on reducing state tax on fuel products.
The Congress leader recalled that when the Oommen Chandy government was in power (2011-16) and fuel prices were high, the present Finance Minister Thomas Issac had sought leave for an adjournment motion to discuss the issue.
"Then Chief Minister Chandy readily agreed as the issue concerns the people. Now, when we are putting the same demand before you (Issac), you are adamant you will not reduce tax. You are not even allowing a discussion, which clearly shows you are hand-in-glove with the BJP-led government at the Centre to loot the people," Chennithala said and walked out of the house.
Congress legislator Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan had sought leave for moving an adjournment motion and said the previous government reduced tax on increased fuel prices on four occasions, leading to benefits of Rs 619 crore to the people of Kerala.
Issac, however, blamed the earlier United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre for deregulating oil prices.
"At the moment, the state's financial position is precarious. We cannot do anything to bring down the tax on fuel products. What all of you should understand is that Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is a clever person. What he does is each time he increases excise duty, he does it by way of additional excise duty because in that case the state government does not get any share in it," the minister said.
Chennithala demanded discussion on what he called the "anti-people policies" of the central government. "But since you (Issac) are not interested, it shows you both (Kerala and central governments) are hand-in-glove to torment the people," the Congress leader said.