New Delhi: Pointing out that Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had hiked passenger fares across-the- board prior to the presentation of Railway Budget 2013-14, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday said it will not accept any hike in the rail fare in a country, which is already reeling under steep hike of petrol, diesel, kerosene, and cylinders.
BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said it is extremely unfortunate that the prices of tickets have been increased prior to the budget by the new Railway Minister.
"So, we do not find any reason that there should be any enhancement of fares of any class of travel. Railway travel is utilised by farmers, by teachers, by students, by workers and it knits the country from south to north, from east to west. And we will not accept any hike in the rail fare in a country, which is already reeling under steep hike of petrol, diesel, kerosene, and of course gas cylinders," said Rudy.
"So, the middle class is under stress, the farmers are under stress, the working class is under stress, the labourers are under stress. So, any hike in any fare of the railways is unacceptable to the Bharatiya Janata Party," he added.
Bansal, who will present the Railway Budget 2013-14 in the Lok Sabha in a couple of hours from now, had on January 22 hiked passenger fares after the Railways faced a loss of about Rs 25,000 crore in the passenger segment.
Bansal earlier held several round of discussions with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and the Planning Commission in this regard.
Bansal is likely to announce a number of passenger friendly measures, such as improvement in catering services, development of stations and launching of several new trains.
A majority of the country`s population will, however, keep a close eye on whether Bansal yields to pressure of hiking passenger fares yet again or looks at other measures to mobilise resources to offset the burden of the recent diesel price hike.
This will be the first Rail Budget to be presented by a Congress Minister after 17 years.