When the Indian Railways first started mulling a fare hike following Dinesh Trivedis elevation as the Union Railways Minister last year,two of the biggest recognised railway unionsthe All India Railwaymens Federation (AIRF) and the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR)surprised many by agreeing with the idea,saying they could not afford to see Railways go the Air India way. Now,as he struggles to keep his job after announcing a hike in rail fares in Wednesdays Rail Budget speech,Trivedi is once again finding support from all the major unions recognised by the Indian Railways,all of whom have strongly opposed a rollback.
In an appeal to the Prime Minister today,five railway unions AIRF,NFIR,Federation of Railway Officers Association,All India RPF Association and Indian Railway Promotee Officers Federation wholeheartedly supported the fare hike.
The increase is not only long overdue but also modest in its impact. The Rail Budget is also replete with agenda on safety and modernisation of the Railways,which will ultimately offer safe,secure and smooth journey to the public of India, they said.
I have written to the Prime Minister saying that it would not be proper to let down a Railway Minister who had made an announcement that will go a long way in helping the Railways. We dont want Trivedi to step down or be removed just because he took a bold decision which his predecessor failed to. It will be a mockery of democracy if Trivedi is sent out at this juncture when he has done good for the Railways and the country, NFIRs general secretary M Raghavaiah told The Indian Express. The NFIR is affiliated to Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC).
The AIRF,too,expressed anguish over what it called the political exploitation of Indian Railways. Affiliated to the Hind Mazdoor Sabha,the AIRF questioned the reaction on meagre hike in passenger fare when majority of passengers are in favour of fare hike as well as increase in facilities.
AIRF general secretary Shiva Gopal Mishra said AIRF would strongly protest against any rollback in the fare hike. We are in full support of the Railways Minister, he said. Asked about the AIRFs stance in case Trivedi is shown the door,Mishra said: It is a political issue. We understand our lakshman rekha. We are not going to stop train operations if that happens but yes,Trivedi should not lose his job because he hiked fares.