Modi asks team, party to defend hard decisions

Modi asks team, party to defend hard decisions

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed his ministerial colleagues and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to strongly defend “hard decisions” of the government like the recent hike in railway fares.

Consequently, Union ministers including Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Kalraj Mishra  have come in defence of the decision to effect the across-the-board hike of 14.2 per cent in passenger fares in all classes and a 6.5 per cent increase in freight rates, which will fetch the Railways Rs 8,000 crore a year.

If Jaitley wrote a Facebook blog to defend the hike by saying that the decision was taken by the previous UPA government but kept in abeyance, Naidu explained the sequence of events relating to rail fare hike beginning with a proposal being made on February 6 this year.

At his press conference in Hyderabad, photocopies of an official circular dated May 16 regarding the revision of passenger fares were distributed to the media.

Attacking the previous government, Naidu said the hike in rail fares was “thrust upon” by the UPA, but it was a “bitter medicine” that had to be swallowed in the interest of sound health of the economy.

“Former Railway Minister (Mallikarjuna) Kharge had sought and received approval of the Prime Minister (for hike) ahead of interim budget,” Naidu said.

Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the hike is a necessary move as the Railways is in shambles and resources would be required to upgrade infrastructure.

Union Minister Kalraj Mishra on Sunday termed the hike in train fare as a step taken under “extreme compulsion”, but said the government was working to find a solution to compensate its economic effect.

A day ago, the Shiv Sena, an ally of the BJP,  expressed shock over the hike and asked the Prime Minister to withdraw the price hike. Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray said he will speak to Modi and request him to rollback the hike.

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