New Delhi, Mar 14: The Trinamool Congress, to which Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi belongs, today raised the banner of opposition to the fare hike proposed by him and demanded a roll-back.
“We met him after the budget and demanded a rollback,” Trinamool leader Sudipt Bandhopadhyay told reporters soon after Trivedi finished presentation of Railway Budget 2012-13 to bring the railways “out of the ICU”.
Bandhopadhyay's refrain was that the Railway Minister should withdraw the fare hike as “we have never put burden on the poor.”
“Railway Minister is from our party only. It is his prerogative that he can say this (hike fares). We have given him time to withdraw the hike in fares,” he said.
He skirted a question on “possible action” against Trivedi is he refuses to rollback the hike. “We hope it is withdrawn.... Government usually rolls back, but TC never (rolls back on its demand),” he said.
He said while fare has been increased by Trivedi as a minister, as a party TC was opposed to it “as we want to fulfil our duty towards the common man.
“People across the country consider Mamata Banerjee as pro-poor. It is not TC policy to increase tax on people....”
Asked why the party was opposing the proposal after the presentation of the Railway Budget, he said they had no prior information on budget proposals as these are never discussed between ministers and the party.
“There is constitutional secrecy. Party has not discussed anything about the proposals with the Railway minister,” he said.
When pointed that the minister and his party were not on the same page, he said, “Interests of the common people are more valuable for us than an individual.”
“Railway Budget...what was all that about increasing fares across the board? Upper class...maybe ok...but all? Sorry, cannot agree,” Trinamool MP Derek O'brien tweeted.
Interestingly, minutes before Bandopadhyay opposed the hike, another Trinamool leader and Union Minister Sultan Ahmed supported the proposal.
“Mamata Banerjee had given a vision to Railways to work on. For that it needs money and it needs funds. World-class infrastructure cannot work without funds,” Ahmed told reporters.
When asked whether the fares were not increased last year keeping in mind West Bengal Assembly polls, he said that was never a issue.
“Fares were not hiked for the past 10 years. Railways need additional funds. If fares are not increased, how will it function?” he asked.