The Congress, AAP and Left parties Thursday slammed the Centre for the hike in base fares for most passengers travelling in Rajdhanis, Shatabdis and Durontos, and demanded a rollback of the decision.
Referring to the exclusion of First AC and Executive Chair Car classes from the hike, the Congress said that “fleecing” of the common man and “profiteering” from them while giving massive tax concessions to big industrialists appeared to be “main motto” of the “suit-boot” Narendra Modi government.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to slam Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.
Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala said, “Right after coming to power and days before the Railway budget, the government effected a steep hike of 14.2 per cent in passenger fares and 7 per cent in railway freights. Another hike in freight fare amounting to 4.35 per cent was effected in November 2015. This has resulted in a steep hike in prices of all essential commodities, including food items.”
He said that instead of increasing track capacity, introducing new trains, improving services and investing in safety infrastructure, the government was busy pushing the bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, which is expected to cost as much as Rs 1 lakh crore. “The aim obviously is to fulfil the PM’s whims and award contracts to foreign companies,” he said.
The CPM politburo said the exclusion of the highest class of travel from the flexi fare scheme reflected the pro-rich bias of the government. “This demand-driven scheme is a mask to cover a sharp hike in fares for 90 per cent of the passengers,” it said.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the “experiment” must be withdrawn.
The CPI central secretariat termed the move unethical. “Railway ticketing and cancellation have been made very expensive, which is against general public interest. The abnormal increase of petrol and diesel recently is another additional increase on people,” it said.
AAP national spokesperson Raghav Chadha said, “The Railways was set up for public service and not for making profits, which is why it was kept away from privatisation. The hike in rail fares is anti-people and will hit the common man hard.”
“AAP strongly opposes surge pricing in railways and demands that it should be rolled back,” AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal tweeted. “I am in Shatabdi rt (right) now. Spoke to several people. Everyone is against Modi Govt’s surge pricing.”