A day after the railways ministry announced a rise in fares, the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK), a key ally of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, on Thursday asked its parliamentarians to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and officially register the party’s protest.
The fare rise will only create problems for the common citizens of the country, DMK said. “DMK will not support any hike that will hit the poor. The party would take up the matter with the prime minister through its MPs (members of Parliament),” said party chief M Karunanidhi.
The principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also condemned the government move. “The decision to increase railway passenger fares a couple of months prior to the Budget session of Parliament clearly exposes the anti-people and anti-democratic face of the UPA government. The near-20 per cent hike has dealt a big blow to the common man, who is already reeling under high inflation,“ said Rajnath Singh, former BJP president.
“If the government felt the need to increase the passenger fares, it should have done so through the Railway Budget and discussed the proposal in Parliament. The massive increase in fares should have come in small dosage but the government ignored the common man’s concerns,” he added.
Demanding an immediate rollback, Singh argued the Union government should wait for the Budget session before implementing its decision. The BJP leader said the government claimed for years that the railways was “doing pretty well” and there was no need to increase passenger fares but the moment the Congress party took charge of the ministry, it changed its policy and the “passengers were taken for a ride”.
Left parties, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), have also demanded an immediate roll back of the decision. Former UPA alliance partner, Trinamool Congress, has described the decision as “anti-people”. Senior members of the party announced they would start a nationwide campaign against the decision.