Rail Budget: Trivedi hikes rail fares, comes under attack from own party

Biting the bullet, Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi today proposed a stiff across-the- board hike in passenger fares to net Rs 4,000 crore extra a year in his budget but his proposals were immediately attacked by his own party Trinamool Congress that could trigger a political crisis.

 

Breaking an 8-year populist trend of not touching passenger fares, the Budget for 2012-13 effected a hike in suburban and non-suburban fares, ordinary second class mail and express fares, sleeper class, 1st class, all AC class travel and Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duranto and Janshatabdi trains.

 

Leaving the freight rates untouched, the Minister claimed that there is no steep hike in the fares but he effected the increase through a sleight-of-hand by raising the fares according to distance.

 

Just after the Minister completed his 100-minute speech in the Lok Sabha, Trinamool Congress, which has already moved amendments to the President’s address, stoutly opposed the hike and demanded its roll-back.

 

It was not clear whether the party would move cut motions to the budget. If a cut motion is adopted, it amounts to defeat and the government may have to go.

 

A delegation of the party MPs met Trivedi and placed the demand. TMC Parliamentary party leader Sudip Bandopadhyay said the party cannot support passenger fare hike which was anti common man.

 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described the budget as forward looking with the emphasis on safety and modernisation while Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee called it positive.

 

PTI

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