Political parties cut across boundaries on Saturday to continue protesting against the pre-Railway Budget hike in railway passenger fare and freight rate. Demonstrations were reported from all across the country.
The Congress and the CPM took to the streets in the national capital demanding immediate roll-back of the hikes, saying the government’s decision would lead to rise in prices of essential commodities.
Scores of Congress workers led by party’s Delhi unit chief Arvinder Singh Lovely held a demonstration in Janakpuri area of West Delhi and clashed with police.
Police had to use water canon when the protesters tried to break barricades.
“It is a massive hike. How can they increase the fare just couple of weeks before the Budget Session of Parliament. People who used to talk about ‘achchhe din’ (good days) before the elections today are talking about bitter medicines,” said Lovely. The Delhi unit of the CPM also staged a protest outside the Rail Bhawan.
“Before coming to power, the BJP had criticised plans and policies of other parties and won the trust of citizens by promising relief to people from price hike. But now they are doing the same thing,” said CPM Delhi member Anurag Saxena.
Slamming the hike, DMK chief M Karunanidhi said though the BJP government had promised to set right the “wrong precedents” of the UPA government, its approach was no different from its predecessor’s on certain issues.
Karunanidhi said the hike came close on the heels of issues like Sri Lankan Navy’s continued action against Indian fishermen, New Delhi’s “relationship” with Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakase and hike in diesel price, all after the BJP came to power.
This showed that there was no change in the Centre’s approach on such matters though a new party was in power, he said.
The BJP’s Tamil Nadu allies, the DMDK and the MDMK, also sought roll-back of the fare revision. Hundreds of Samajwadi Party (SP) squatted in protest on railway tracks in Allahabad on Saturday, affecting movement of trains on the busy Howrah-Delhi route.
Carrying party flags and banners, they shouted anti-Centre slogans and demanded immediate roll-back of the hike. Scores of SP workers also climbed on the engine of an express train to register their protest, said police sources.
SP workers also demonstrated in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's parliamentary constituency of Varanasi. They burnt Modi's effigy too.
Youth Congress workers blocked trains at various places in Kerala in protest against the decision.