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Mamata demands fare hike roll-back; TMC hits the streets

June 23, 2014 19:27 IST

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday termed the hike in rail fares as "unprecedented and anti-people" and demanded its roll back in the interest of common people.

Hundreds of her party supporters hit the streets on Monday as part of a week-long agitation against the hike in passenger and freight fares.

The state assembly also passed a resolution moved by state Parliamentary Affairs and Education Minister Partha Chatterjee seeking withdrawal of the fare hike which was supported by the Left, the Congress and the SUCI.

Participating in the debate on the resolution in the assembly the chief minister said the decision to hike rail fare and freight rates had created problems for the masses.

The increase in rail fare means increase in prices of all commodities. The decision will have an impact on the pockets which in turn will affect the kitchen of common man, she said.

Hundreds of TMC activists, led by the party MPs, state ministers and legislators took out a procession from Raja Subodh Mullick Square in North Kolkata to the Gandhi statue in the central part of the city.

Protestors carried posters which read "We oppose rail fare hike". Another poster read "Modi tumi jaldi bhago" (Modi you should quit).

Banerjee, during debate, however, pointed out that their opposition to the fare hike did not mean that they were being anti-Centre. It was just a reminder to the central government that the decision should be withdrawn for the sake of people.

A new government should be given time, but if it took unpopular decisions right from the first day, they cannot keep quiet, suggesting that the new government should be polite, soft and take decision in favour of people.

Banerjee point out that political parties in their manifesto talk about 'acche din', but after coming to power anti-people decisions were being taken.

She said if the political parties had plans to take such harsh decisions, they should tell the masses about it.

Addressing TMC supporters at a rally, party general secretary and former railway minister Mukul Roy said movement against the rail fare hike would be spread across the state.

Roy said party MPs would protest against it in the coming Budget session of Parliament.

Leader of the TMC parliamentary party in the Lok Sabha Sudip Bandyopadhyaya told the rally, "During the recent debate on the President's address in Parliament, we had said that we will support those government decisions which are not anti-people, but we will oppose those which are anti-people. In this case this decision of the government is anti-people."

He said that during debate on the general budget and rail budget in the Lok Sabha Parliament, they would take up the issue and demand a roll-back of the hike. The TMC has now 34 MPs in the House.

Meanwhile, the BJP, which had put up an impressive show in the recent Lok Sabha election in the state, too organised a rally against the "misrule" of the Trinamool Congress government.

The two rallies paralysed traffic in large parts of central Kolkata.

Earlier, the chief minister had said when a democratic government comes to power, it comes to power on the basis of some promises. What lacks in today's politics is that what the political parties preach before elections, they don't follow that after coming to power.

Banerjee noted that during her tenure as railway minister, she had not touched the freight and railway fares because it would have adversely affected the day-to-day life of the common man.

She also said that she had information that the Centre might withdraw the present subsidy on LPG cylinders.

Image: Trinamool Congress leaders and MPs leading a protest against rail fare hike, in Kolkata on Monday

Photograph: PTI

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