Left slams rail fare hike

New Delhi: Left parties today slammed the rail fare hike and said Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi`s announcements of completing the pending projects showed promises made by his predecessor Mamata Banerjee were "gimmicks and a fraud" on the people.

The hikes in fares and freight charges for most commodities like coal, fertilisers, foodgrains, steel and cement, notified earlier this month, would raise prices of essential items and "adversely impact millions of rural migrant workers, employees and small entrepreneurs who have to frequently travel" thousands of kilometers from their hometowns, CPI(M) said.

The "anti-people nature" of the rail budget is "further exposed" by the announcement of adding a `fuel adjustment component` to passenger fares, which implies periodic increase in rail fares in tandem with hike in fuel prices, it said. CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said "a plethora of promises made in one year is forgotten the next year" and said "the silence or obfuscation of Trivedi on these promises confirms that announcements made by Mamata Banerjee as Railway Minister in 2010 and 2011 were all gimmicks and fraud on Indian people".

Maintaining that the recommendations by the Sam Pitroda committee favoured privatisation of the railways, Yechury said the British railways were privatised and re-nationalised within a few years as privatisation did not work. "The path being undertaken by the railways is a recipe for disaster," he said, adding it was "ridiculous" that global tenders would be floated for catering services which would attract MNCs like McDonalds at the cost of Indian caterers. Terming the budget as "anti-people", CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said it "hid more than it revealed" as the Railway Minister has not given actual figures or percentage the hike.