Led by All India Democratic Students Organisation (AIDSO), hundreds of students staged a protest here on Saturday demanding free bus pass to students. They gathered at SVP Circle and marched to the district administrative complex in a procession raising slogans against the State government for not fulfilling its promise.
“The Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) had, during the run-up to the 2018 Assembly elections, promised to provide free bus pass to students. Even after the formation of the government, the Transport Minister had said that his department would issue free bus pass to students. However, their promises have turned out to be hoaxes. We are protesting against the Congress-Janata Dal(S) coalition government as both the parties have failed to keep their words,” Hanumath H., a student leader, said during the agitation. Mallinath Singhe, district president of AIDSO, condemned the government for dropping the idea of providing free bus pass to students considering financial constraints.
“The government feels that it needs Rs. 600 crore to provide free bus pass to students. The fact, however, is that free bus pass to all students could be provided with the Rs. 860 crore that the government gives to the Transport Department,” Mr. Singhe said and added that free bus pass to students would not be a burden if financial leaks are effectively sealed. Some agitating students said that their peasant parents were in critical financial conditions as their area had suffered consecutive droughts. “I am from a poor farming family and every rupee matters for us. We hoped that the government would provide free bus pass so that the daily travelling expenditure could be saved. Now, the government appears to be denying free bus pass. It is unfair,” a student said. Students leader appeared to be firm on intensifying the agitation across the State till the government fufilled its promise.
“We planned a State-wide agitation. However, the Deputy Chief Minister, after the Coordination Committee meeting, announced that free bus pass would be given to all students and, hence, we put on hold the scheduled agitation. As the government broke its own words, we will resume the agitation,” Mr. Singhe said.
Representatives of All India Mahila Sanskritik Sanghatan and All India Democratic Youth Organisation participated in the agitation supporting the students cause.