Maharashtra BJP Likely Victim of Railway Fare Hike
MUMBAI: The Maharashtra BJP is likely to be the first victim of Ministry of Railways’ decision to hike the fare of local trains’ season tickets as the party fears that the decision will affect its fortunes in the upcoming Legislative Assembly elections here.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) is connected by the local trains network and almost 65 lakh people everyday travel by local trains in this region.
The Railways has doubled the season tickets’ fare. Earlier, a commuter who travelled from Borivali to Churchgate in First Class coach needs to pay `655 monthly. Now, he will have to shell out `1,310 for the same period.
The MMR has 54 out of 288 Assembly seats and has a potential to turn the election outcome in any party’s favour, like it did in the recently held Lok Sabha elections. The LS results show that the BJP and Shiv Sena are leading in 50 out of these 54 Assembly segments. The alliance is hoping to repeat its performance in the Assembly elections due in September. However, the fare hike has posed a threat to their plans. “Majority of our voters travel by local trains, from far suburbs to the island city. It will be difficult to seek their votes if the hike is not rolled back,” a senior BJP leader said.
Leader of Opposition Vinod Tawde admitted that the hike was unfair. “We are going to meet the Railway Minister on Tuesday, along with all 10 MPs from the MMR. We will apprise him of the people’s sentiments and request to reduce the hike. We will not give him any proposal, but will certainly make him aware of the people’s strong reaction against the hike,” Tawde said.
The second biggest constituent of the NDA - Shiv Sena too has maintained that the fare hike was unacceptable. Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said the government should have discussed with the alliance partners. “It is not a good start for acche din. . Modi should explain this,” Raut said. The Congress leaders led by state president Manikrao Thakare travelled without ticket from CST to Thane to register their protest. The party has announced to stop the trains on June 25 intensifying their protest.