Panaji: The Congress party in Goa on Monday alleged a communal design on part of the BJP government at the Centre and in the state with regard to the 300 per cent hike in special train fare from Goa to the Velankannni shrine in Tamil Nadu, which hosts a popular Catholic feast of "Our Lady of Good Health" on September 8.
"The BJP governments, both in Goa and at the Centre, are depriving poor and middle class Catholics from travelling to Velankanni for the feast by hiking the fees by 300 per cent from Rs 530 to around Rs 2,000," Congress spokesperson Trajano D'Mello said.
Thousands of Goans, both Catholics and some Hindus, travel to the Velankanni church located in the Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu, which is home to the deity of "Our Lady of Good Health". Around a quarter of Goa's 1.5 million population is Catholic.
Special trains are arranged every year by the Indian Railways from Goa to Velankanni but the fare hike this year, especially when elections to the state legislative assembly are barely six months away, has triggered a political outburst from the opposition.
"The BJP governments are depriving the common man from the minority community from visiting a religious event of such significance. This is nothing short of a communal conspiracy," D'Mello said, adding that state Congress president Luizinho Faleiro had written to Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to bring down the fares for the Velankanni journey by special train.