Apprehensive about an adverse fallout of the hike in train fares in the coming assembly polls, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena MPs from Maharashtra will meet Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda in Delhi tomorrow to "convey strong sentiments of commuters".
"We will convey to the minister the strong sentiments of the 65 lakh rail commuters (of Mumbai) on the fare hike issue," leader of the opposition in the legislative council Vinod Tawde, who would also accompany the MPs, said here today.
"A season pass which cost Rs 115 will now cost Rs 330," Tawde said, adding commuters feel this hike was "unjust and huge."
After political rivals, the Narendra Modi government has come under fire from Shiv Sena over the rail fare hike with its oldest ally terming the move as akin to the common man being run over by train. "Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda has in the first instance brought a steep fare hike and has run the train over the common man," an editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece 'Saamna' said.
Meanwhile, Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said Modi should "come in front of the public and explain the hike." "People brought them to power with certain ideas. While we understand the government doesn't have a magic wand, the public was not prepared for this hike. It is too bitter a pill to swallow," Raut said, referring to Modi's recent speech in which he had asked the people to be ready for some bitter pills for improved economic health in the long run.
"If the public is angry, we are angry. This is not just for Mumbai and we aren't saying this because Maharashtra goes to elections (in four months). Train fares are important here," Raut said.
"BJP leaders in the state are also unhappy with this (hike). Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has said we will speak to the government about this. Even BJP has to face elections here, its not just us," he said.
Describing the move as an "accident", Raut said it could have been avoided if the matter was discussed within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) first. "There is no U-turn on the demand for rollback of the fare hike," he said when his attention was drawn to a sentence in the 'Saamna' editorial that "people expect this should be the final increase."
"This is not a good start of achche din," he said, adding some hike in fares was necessary to improve facilities in the railways.