With their man – Mukul Roy – on the saddle in the Railway Ministry, the Trinamool Congress in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday urged him to roll back the increased passenger fares announced by Dinesh Trivedi in the House on March 14.
Mr. Trivedi was pulled out of the Cabinet after he unveiled his proposals in his Railway budget. Trinamool MPs even staged dharnas inside and outside Parliament against his proposed “anti-people” steps.
Even as Mr. Roy, who visited Rail Bhavan only on Wednesday after assuming office the day earlier, keenly watched party colleague Kalyan Banerjee speaking on the railway budget. Mr. Banerjee stressed withdrawal of the new fare structure and hoped that the new Minister would sincerely work and successfully run the Indian Railways.
Recalling “Vision 2020” for the Railways, announced by party leader Mamata Banerjee when she was the Railway Minister (in NDA regime), Mr. Banerjee said the new Minister should take that forward and fulfil it in the interests of the poor.
He took the opportunity to hit out at Mr. Trivedi, saying that some people thought that by raising taxes they became intellectuals. “If you ignore the condition of poor, then you become prudent!”
Referring to the fare hike for passenger trains, he said if a poor person travelled even for a mere 25 km., he had to shell out an extra Rs.75 a ticket.
Another Trinamool member, Ratna De, too wanted roll back of the increased train fares. “Fare hike is not fair,” she said. She too did not spare Mr. Trivedi. She accused him of indulging in jugglery of increasing the fares in terms of paise a km, while the real hike worked out to be 20 per cent of the ticket price.
If the government wanted to generate resources for rail safety and modernisation, it should bring back the black money stashed away abroad and impose higher taxes on corporates.
Yogi Adityanath (BJP) said it was for the first time in the country's history that a Railway Minister, who presented the budget, had become a “former Minister.” He said, “When he [Mr. Trivedi] announced fare hike, we realised what is going to happen...We suspected that something is fishy.” There was “no reason” for increasing the passenger fares at a time when a “dangerous” situation was created by inflation.
Paramjit Kaur (Shiromoni Akali Dal) noted that Mr. Trivedi presented the Railway budget with much fanfare but could not see its passage.