New Delhi: Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi became the target of his own party right after he presented the Railway Budget 2012 in which he raised the fares.
Opposing the railway fare hike on Wednesday, key MPs of TMC – a principal ally of the Congress – sought a rollback. What was more shocking for Trivedi was that party chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked for his resignation if the fares are not lowered.
"We oppose the rail fare hike. We want the government to roll it back. It is not in the interest of the common man," Minister of State for Health Sudip Bandyopadhyay said immediately after the budget was presented.
Trinamool leader and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien tweeted that his party has issues over the railway budget.
"What was all that about increasing fares across the board? Upper class... maybe ok... but all? Sorry, cannot agree," tweeted Derek.
Asked if he disagrees with the union minister, Derek replied, "Yes, our party has issues on content."
Minister of State for Tourism Sultan Ahmed said, "As Sudip Bandopadhyay has already said, we will go by the party line."
The fare rise is the first in almost a decade. According to reports, the rise is unlikely to affect the people much. Trivedi had clarified that the rise was essential to the smooth, clean and safe operation of the railways.
"I am asking an extra two paise per km on suburban and ordinary second class. Similarly, an increase of three paise per km for mail and express trains," Trivedi said in his 105-minute budget speech, listing what will be the first fare hike since 2002-03.
"For sleeper class, I am asking only 5 paise (increase) and for AC chair car and III tier, only 10 paise per km, and for AC II tier 15 paise per km and AC I class by 30 paise per km," the minister told the Lok Sabha in his maiden rail budget speech.
Accordingly, over a 100-km run, the fares will go up by INR 2 on suburban and ordinary II class trains, INR 5 for sleeper class, INR 10 for AC chair car and III tier, INR 15 for AC II tier and INR 30 for AC first class.
Trivedi, however, found support from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who said it (the budget) was an exercise in the right direction. "The railway minister has presented a forward looking Budget with emphasis on safety and modernization of the Indian Railways," he said.