Sena fails to take a tough stand against the Modi government’s decision to revise railway fares.
The BJP which has always made a hue and cry over the railway fare hike which was imposed during the UPA government’s reign is following the footsteps of its predecessor by announcing a massive passenger fare hike of 14.2 per cent and freight by 6.5 per cent. This time around party leaders are defending the fare hike in order to reduce the losses incurred by the railways. Even though the Shiv Sena had criticised the fare hike in its mouth piece Saamna but it didn’t adopt an aggressive stand and merely said that this hike should be final.
Since the BJP has gained a mandate on its own hence the Sena will find it difficult to pacify the government to roll back the decision hence it is softening its stand over this issue. The steep revision in passenger fares has particularly hit the Mumbaikars hard as they will have to shell out more than double for monthly and quarterly season tickets. Thus the BJP has armed the opposition with a weapon few months before the state goes to poll.
As per the revised fares, effective June 25, a Rs 85 monthly season ticket (II Class) will now cost Rs 150, while a Rs 190 monthly pass will be priced at Rs 480. Similarly, the monthly season pass of Rs 795 for the first class has been revised to Rs 1,930. Likewise, a first class commuter with a monthly pass of Rs 1,740 will now have to shell out Rs 2,120 more for the same journey. Second class monthly season tickets fares shall be charged on the basis of 30 single journeys instead of around 15 single journeys charged currently.
Mumbaikars are unhappy with the Modi government’s decision to increase railway fares as they will have to shell out more money for commuting in suburban trains.
Dinesh Gupta a software professional employed with a private firm in Powai said, “I used to purchase a quarterly pass of Rs 1450 for commuting from Kalyan to Kanjurmarg. But when I had gone to purchase the pass yesterday then railway officials asked me to pay Rs 3,100 for the same.”
Defending the railway fare hike BJP MP Gopal Shetty said, “When a commuter boards a rickshaw and travels for 2 km he doesn’t have any qualms about paying thirty rupees. At the same time people make a hue and cry when the rail fare is hiked by few rupees for travelling a distance of 30 kilometres.”
Akhilesh Jambawdekar an artist said, “The Government should have initially done some work and improved the infrastructure and safety of passengers instead of hiking the fares as soon as it came into power. The railways have yet to improve its services.”
Ashokbhai Jadhav, MLA from Juhu said, “The Congress led UPA government would have done a better job instead of the BJP government. Even we could have raised the railway fares then what is the purpose of a change in government if prices are revised in this manner?”
The opposition has questioned the acche din campaign run by the BJP government which was used by the party to solicit support from voters. They added that Narendra Modi had promised that bringing down inflation was his first priority which he is yet to fulfil.
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) staged a protest at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station against the railway fare hike and demanded its rollback. The protest was led by state unit chief Manikrao Thakre. The protestors, including Thakre, boarded the 11.04 am Thane local without tickets as a mark of protest.
The protestors shouted slogans against the fare hike which they said “will cripple the common man” and demanded its immediate rollback.
Similarly, all six district units have been asked to protest outside suburban railway stations for the next eight days.
Within the Bharatiya Janata Party too there is a demand to reconsider the hike. Maharashtra BJP MLA Vinod Tawde has tweeted saying the hike must be reconsidered.
“Rail fare hike is too taxing for Mumbaikars. We’ve requested Rajnath Singh to reconsider the proposal,” Tawde tweeted.