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Opposition parties slam rail fare hike

June 20, 2014 21:40 IST

Opposition parties on Friday criticised the government's decision to hike railway fares terming it as "criminal" to burden the people with such an increase and questioned as to why Parliament was not taken into confidence before taking the step.

They questioned the relevance of taking such a decision when the budget session has already been announced and also demanded an immediate roll-back.

"After coming into government, without taking Parliament into confidence and without brining out a white paper...if they felt that the financial health of the railways was not up to the mark or without waiting for the railway budget, they have gone ahead and increased rail tariffs by 14 per cent.

"What kind of a sensitivity is this that those who till yesterday were talking about 'aam aadmi' (common man) and how his concerns should be addressed, have now started doing the opposite by imposing as much burden as they can on the so called 'aam aadmi' who voted them to power," Congress leader Manish Tewari said.

Left was also critical of the move and slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his "reward" to the people, whom he had promised to bring relief.

"We strongly condemn the unprecedented hike in railway fare. This is going to be a huge burden on the people at a time when they are already battling relentless price rise," CPI(M) Politburo member Brinda Karat said.

"It is criminal. We demand its reversal. At the same time see the hypocrisy of the government. When the Congress used to do it in between Parliament sessions or pre-budget, they would say how undemocratic it is and exactly that undemocratic bypassing of Parliament is what the Modi government has done," she added.

JD(U) too echoed the view with former Railway Minister Nitish Kumar saying that NDA government was "promoting the bad tradition" started by the UPA.

The Trinamool Congress came down heavily on the Modi government saying it was following the "tricks of the previous government" and there was no respite for common man.

"Is this a super rail budget before the rail budget? The common man is already burdened, now he will be over-burdened," Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP and spokesman Derek O'Brien said.

The Samajwadi Party also questioned the relevance of the increase at a time when the budget session has been announced and said that the people should be ready to get burdened in the general budget as well.

"This is the beginning of good times. I could not understand that when the budget session is scheduled in July, what is the relevance of increasing the fares before that.

Then what is the relevance of Parliament," SP leader Naresh Aggarwal said taking a dig at the Modi government. Strongly opposing the hike in railway passenger fares and freight tariff, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to roll back the increase in the interests of the poor and the middle class people.

"I appeal to the Prime Minister to roll back the hike considering the welfare of the poor and the middle class people," she said in a statement in Chennai.

The hike would severely affect the poor and the middle class and also lead to a steep increase in prices of essential commodities and vegetables, she said. Narendra Modi government announced increasing railway passenger fare by 14.2 per cent in all classes and freight by 6.5 per cent.

Aggarwal said that it now seems that there would be heavy increase in taxes in the general  budget as well and people should get ready to take on the added burden.

"This government neither will be able to stop prices rise nor fulfil the promises it has made. There is so much of internal fight in BJP that the government is not able to take any decision. This is the country's misfortune that the government is going to impose such high inflation," the SP leader said.

Meanwhile, former railway minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad described the fare hike as the "first salvo on the common man".

"The BJP befooled people in the general election by promising 'achee din' (good days) ...they have fired the first salvo from 'tope' (cannon) on common man's chest by announcing the increase in rail tariff," Prasad told reporters, adding that he does not remember any government in the past which had announced such a major increase. 

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