UDF rejects joint strike call against central govt; CPI(M) hits back

The Congress-led UDF in Kerala has rejected the ruling LDF's call for a joint strike against the central government in New Delhi next month, citing disagreement with the CPI(M)-led government's narrative
Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly V D Satheesan
Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly V D Satheesan

Thiruvananthapuram | The Congress-led UDF in Kerala has rejected the ruling LDF's call for a joint strike against the central government in New Delhi next month, citing disagreement with the CPI(M)-led government's narrative that attributes the state's financial challenges solely to neglect by the union government.

Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly V D Satheesan said on Friday that during an online meeting convened by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan recently, opposition leaders pointed out issues with the state government as also being behind the state's financial woes.

In a letter to the chief minister, Satheesan said that issues, including mismanagement in tax administration in Kerala, were brought to the state government's notice by the opposition through two whitepapers, but that they were not taken at face value by the ruling LDF.

While thanking the CM for inviting the opposition for the discussion, Satheesan expressed suspicion about the political interests of the CPI(M)-led government in extending such an invitation.

The letter came days after Chief Minister Vijayan held discussions with Satheesan and Deputy Leader of the State Assembly P K Kunhalikutty on the alleged negligence of the central government towards the state on various matters.

The CPI(M) criticised the UDF decision, stating that the BJP-led central government was neglecting the needs of Kerala, and the explanation given by the opposition for abstaining from a joint fight is against the interest of the people of the state.

CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan also claimed that there was disagreement within the UDF over its leadership's decision to skip the joint protest being organised in New Delhi on February 8.

Talking to the media, he said that the chief minister and the cabinet ministers will participate in the agitation to be held by the LDF in Delhi.

"MLAs and MPs belonging to the LDF will participate in the agitation. The chief minister has written to all non-BJP chief ministers about the agitation," Govindan said.

Earlier this week, LDF Convenor E P Jayarajan had said that the protest is scheduled for 11 am at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on February 8.

The LDF government has planned various programmes to spread the message of the protest to the people, including house visits across Kerala on a booth basis from 4 pm to 6 pm on the day of the protest.

During the meeting convened by CM on Monday, Satheesan had informed him that the UDF would discuss the matter with its constituents before deciding whether to join the protest.

He had said that the opposition does not agree with the Left narrative blaming the Centre for all of the state's financial problems.

Satheesan had also pointed out other reasons for the financial distress, including the state government's mismanagement in tax collection, gold sales, and issues related to receiving its share of the IGST.

The state government contends that despite repeated communications to the union government to end its "discriminatory" actions, the Centre has intensified its "vindictive moves," making survival difficult for Kerala.

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