Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan led a delegation of the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Government, MLAs, MPs and senior leadership of the party in a sit-in protest march at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Thursday morning as part of a ‘fight to protect federalism’ and to flag alleged indifferent attitude of the Centre towards its demand for orderly fiscal devolution. 

TN, Karnataka stage protests

Apart from Vijayan, counterparts from two major states in the South - Karnataka and Tamil Nadu - too were in the national capital to protest alleged injustice in the allocation of funds. The DMK staged a demonstration earlier in the day, while Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had led his government’s ‘Chalo Delhi’ protest on Wednesday. Opposition parties such as DMK, RJD, National Conference, JMM, NCP, and AAP extended support to the four-hour protest by Kerala that began at 11 am on Thursday. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin expressed solidarity and deputed Cabinet colleague Palanivel Thiaga Rajan to the event. 

Delhi, Punjab CMs arrive

Reports reaching from Delhi said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann joined the agitation organised by the Kerala government. In his address, Pinarayi Vijayan stated the event seeks to amplify the need for balance in Centre-State relations. “We are at a historical juncture. What was envisaged as a Union of States is slowly and steadily being degraded into an undemocratic ‘Union over States’ as manifest mostly in Opposition-ruled states,” he added.

Centre, a scapegoat

Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan decried the Kerala government’s protests and accused it of finding a scapegoat in the Centre in the run-up to Lok Sabha elections. The LDF government has been in power for last eight years. It had made tall promises while fighting the last Assembly elections but suddenly realises it has run short of the ambitious targets it had set for itself. This explains its opportunistic stance ahead of the approaching Lok Sabha elections., he said.