Kerala CM Takes Charge of Protest Against Central Government’s Monetary Constraints

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In an escalating display of discontent, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is set to lead a protest against perceived financial restrictions imposed by the Centre. The demonstration, staged at the iconic Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on February 8, is the latest move by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) to voice their dissatisfaction with the federal government’s fiscal policies. This decision was made at the LDF State committee meeting on January 16, with the intention to include the involvement of ministers, Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs), and Members of Parliament (MPs) from Kerala.

A Cry for Fiscal Federalism and Equitable Treatment

The protest is not merely a show of resistance, but a call for fiscal federalism and equitable treatment for the state of Kerala. Chief Minister Vijayan has even reached out to the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) for their backing, although support has yet to be confirmed. The LDF’s grievances primarily revolve around the Centre’s alleged withholding of financial entitlements such as the revenue deficit grant and GST compensation, and their perceived undermining of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) by reducing the state’s borrowing limit.

Accusations Against the Centre

Additional criticisms levelled at the Centre include considering public utility borrowings and public sector undertakings debts as state debt, withholding shares in development projects, and reducing Kerala’s share of the divisible tax pool. The LDF contends that these actions are punitive measures against Kerala’s high quality of life, literacy, and public health achievements. They argue that the state receives a lower share of tax from the Centre compared to states like Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.

A Bid for Cross-Partisan Support

The battle is expected to extend beyond the protest, with the Chief Minister planning to communicate the Centre’s alleged unfair treatment to other Chief Ministers and Union Ministers. Interestingly, Vijayan has also extended an invitation to local BJP leaders to support Kerala’s financial struggle, indicating the issue’s importance transcends party lines. The coming weeks will reveal the impact of these concerted efforts and the Centre’s response to Kerala’s grievances.