Kollam (Kerala), Nov 12 (PTI) Two days after Kerala's ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) announced its decision to take the fight to the Centre against its alleged negligence towards the state's development needs, the government on Sunday said it was also exploring legal remedies against the discrimination.
Kerala Finance Minister K N Balagopal, speaking to reporters here, said that the BJP-ruled Centre was being "hugely discriminatory" towards opposition-ruled states, including Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, in financial matters.
"Of them, the most discrimination is being faced by Kerala. We are exploring legal remedies against this action of the Centre," he said.
Balagopal said that despite the clearly visible actions of the Centre towards the southern state, Leader of Opposition in the state assembly V D Satheesan was not talking about that.
"Instead he terms everything the state government does as an extravagance. He said Keraleeyam celebrations cost over Rs 20 crore and the money instead could have been used to pay pensions.
"However, around Rs 900 crore is required to pay pensions. From next week onwards, steps would be taken to disburse pensions," the state finance minister said.
Balagopal also contended that the UDF MPs were not even willing to sign a memo against the Centre's financial policies that were choking the state, and termed the stand of the Congress-led opposition as "unfortunate".
He also alleged that it was during the previous UDF rule that pensions were not disbursed for 18 months, farmers were not paid for produce collected from them and state transport corporation KSRTC's employees were not given their wages.
On the other hand, during the first Pinarayi Vijayan government when the expenditure was high, especially due to the free-food kits and medicines distributed during COVID-19, welfare schemes and pensions were not halted, he claimed.
Balagopal also said that as the expenditure of the state increased, its revenue generation has also seen an increase.
Unlike what the LoP claims, even the tax collection was being carried out effectively, the minister claimed.
He said that in the past two years, revenue from tax collection has increased by around Rs 24,000 crore, the highest in the history of the state.
On Friday, November 10, the LDF announced that it was going to hold an agitation in New Delhi in January next year, to highlight the challenges faced by the state on the financial front due to what the CPI(M)-led alliance alleges as the Centre's negligence.
LDF Convenor E P Jayarajan had said that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with his cabinet colleagues, Left MLAs, MPs, and other leaders, would participate in the protest.
This move is seen as shoring up the LDF's political narrative against the BJP-led NDA in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.
He had also said that the issue of the approach of the Central government towards the opposition-ruled states would be discussed with chief ministers of non-BJP-ruled states. PTI HMP HMP ANE