Achuthanandan leads anti-Centre agitation

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Kochi, Oct 17: In an unprecedented anti-Centre move,Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan and his cabinet colleagues of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government today took out a "Parliament march" and staged a dharna in the capital city in protest against the "gross negligence" of the Centre towards the southern state.

Eighty-three-year-old Mr Achuthanandan led the marchers, who also included MPs and MLAs of the LDF from Kerala, from the 'Kerala House' to Jantar Mantar where they staged a dharna in the special pandal erected there.

The marchers, holding placards, shouted anti-Centre slogans.

Inaugurating the dharna, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat asked the Centre to take the agitation by the Kerala government seriously as the ruling LDF enjoyed two third majority in the state legislature.

He said the Manmohan Singh government had been adopting a negligent attitude towards the Left-ruled Kerala despite repeated representations made to the Prime Minister by the government and all-party delegations.

Mr Karat demanded that the Centre to restore the substantial cut effected in the state's ration rice quota, besides doing away with the categorisation of the ration card holders as APL and BPL.

Accusing the Centre of overconcentration of powers, he said it should share more powers with the states. "There is a need for a change in the Centre-state relations with the states getting more powers." Chief Minister Achuthanandan said the state government was left with no option but to come to Delhi to highlight its genuine demands.

He said there was no justification for the undue delay on the part of the Centre to concede the genuine and rightful demands of the state government and correct some of its policies which had proved detrimental to the interests of Kerala.

The agitation, which was timed with the opening day of the 22-day-long sitting of the Parliament, comes three months after the Left Parties fell out with the ruling Congress Party at the Centre and withdrew support to the Manmohan Singh Government on the Indo-US Nuclear deal.

''The neglect of Kerala by the Centre continues. In fact, it has shown an increasing trend in recent months,'' a spokesman of the LDF said, indirectly hinting at the non-cooperation by the Centre in the light of the withdrawal of support by the Left Parties. He pointed out that the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues had been repeatedly representing before the Prime Minister and his team in the Cabinet on issues of vital importance for the state. But there was no adequate response from them.

''The protest is to get immediate redressal of state's grievances from the centre, of which the major issues are the reduction of ration quota, central pool electricity share, and failure of Central government to grant state's long standing demands like Peninsular Railway Zone and IIT,'' he said.

Listing out instances of negligence towards Kerala, the spokesman said, ''There was an allotment of 113,420 tonnes of rice per month for distribution to APL (Above Poverty Line) cardholders up to March 2007. This was reduced by the Centre to 21, 334 tonnes from April 2007 to 17,056 tonnes in April this year and has completely stopped since September this year.'' He said the share of electricity from the Central pool was reduced considerably. The state was to get 1188 MW electricity per month from the central pool, including 145 MW from unallocated share from the Central Generating stations, but the availability of power from central pool in May 2008 was 820MW. It had gone down to 764 MW in June, 745 MW in July and 667 MW in August, putting the state to severe power crisis.

The spokesman said though the Prime Minister promised that an IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) would be set up in the state, this was not done though the Centre had recently decided to start eight new IITs.


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