Slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre for steep increase in rail fare and freight, Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik today demanded immediate roll back of the hike as the country is reeling under severe inflationary pressure.
Accusing BJP of betraying people's trust, the former Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president said the increase in rail fare and freight rates would have a cascading effect and drive the economy into an inflationary spiral. Besides severe inflationary pressure because of rise in prices of onion and potatoes, there was serious apprehension of a further rise in prices of petrol and diesel because of the fluid situation in the entire middle east and particularly Iraq, Patnaik said in a statement.
While campaigning during election BJP had promised they would check inflation, but once they secured the mandate of the people they are talking about "bitter pill", said the former Odisha minister.
In the past, all such economic decisions by the UPA government was termed as "anti-people" and now they have become "necessities for a stronger economy", he said adding people have been cheated by the government.
The Railways have not been incurring any operational loss and therefore, the central government should have waited for the regular budget to find funds for ongoing railway projects, Patnaik said.
The UPA government had already allowed infusion of additional funds into the railways by allowing investment by the private sector on Public Private partnership (PPP) mode in the dedicated freight corridor though the response had not been encouraging, he said. The former PCC chief also attacked Odisha government for its subdued criticism of the central government.
The state government has lost touch with people and raised excise duties on Petroleum products which would mean people of Odisha would pay more than people of other states, he said. "The decision of the state government is ill-timed, unjustified and avoidable. The problem is, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is clueless about economic growth, finds no way of augmenting revenue collection and have passed on the burden to the common man to fund populist sops that can win votes. Why has the growth rate dipped and why has revenue collection been poor?" he asked.
The former minister demanded an immediate roll back of the rise in passenger fares and the increase in excise on petroleum products by the Odisha government.
It seems the BJP in Delhi and the BJD in Odisha were competing with each other to produce higher rates of inflation after winning the election, Patnaik added.