Attacking the previous government, Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu Sunday said the hike in rail fares was “thrust upon” by the UPA, but it was a “bitter medicine” that had to be swallowed in the interest of sound health of the economy.
“The hike in fares is thrust upon us by UPA government. It is the result of the misplaced populism of the UPA’s 10-year misrule. The Railways is bleeding. Former railway minister (Mallikarjuna) Kharge had sought and received approval of the PM (for hike) ahead of the interim budget,” Naidu told reporters here.
Describing the rail fare hike as a “bitter medicine”, the Union Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs Minister said the medicine had to be swallowed in the interest of sound health of the economy.
“The Railway Board has moved now to give effect to what the railway minister and the then Prime Minister had concurred. It is a bitter medicine which was necessitated to set right the faltering finances of the Railways that were aggravated by UPA’s mismanagement of the economy,” he said.
Naidu explained the sequence of events relating to the rail fare hike beginning with a proposal being made on February 6 this year. Photocopies of an official circular dated May 16 regarding revision of passenger fares were distributed to the media.
Noting that only 4,000 out of 12,000 trains announced by successive railway ministers during the last 10 years have been introduced, he said the present railway projects need Rs 5 lakh crore for implementation.
BJP leader seeks rollback
Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council Vinod Tawde Sunday said the proposed railway fare hike was too taxing for Mumbaikars and should be reconsidered. Tawde said he had requested party president and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to reconsider the proposal.
“Rajnath Singh assured that he would talk to the Railway Minister and the Prime Minister,” the BJP leader said expressing confidence that the proposal would be reconsidered. On Saturday, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had also termed the fare hike as “shocking” and said he would speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and request him to roll it back.