Mumbai: Reluctantly accepting the steep hike in railway fares and freight rates, the Shiv Sena here Monday urged the government this should be "the final increase".
In a sharp editorial in the party mouthpiece "Saamana" flaying the sudden hike, the Shiv Sena has pointed out that its ally Bharatiya Janata Party has armed the opposition with a weapon.
The steep, pre-budget hike of 14.2 percent in passenger fares has particularly hit the Mumbaikars hard as they will have to shell out more than double for monthly and quarterly season tickets.
Justifying the hike, the railways said it was running losses of Rs.28,000 crore per annum which had to be offset by the hikes.
The government has said the hike was intended to provide safety, security and comfort to the passengers, but the people and opposition parties are not convinced, the edit said.
"Compared to the railway systems in developed countries in Europe, Russia, the US, ours resembles a 'khatara gaadi'. Our railway stations, railway tracks, signals etc. are in a horrible state. Crowds have increased but new routes have barely been introduced and whatever the British had built, we continue to overload it," the edit said.
It alleged that in the past 15-20 years, all the railway ministers simply looted it and those (railway ministers) hailing from Bihar gave it a "Yadavi" (clannish) tone.
The Congress's P.K. Bansal's relative was caught red-handed accepting a bribe, and huge rail works tenders are awarded only for commissions.
"This is the reason accidents keep taking place. People are dying but in every railway budget, the rulers show new dreams to the people. People want all facilities and for this they are ready to shell out money - not for the development of the politicians only... People who feel run over by the latest hike will demand the account now," the edit added.
The Shiv Sena said that if the same hike had been taken up by the Congress, the opposition would have bombarded it with criticisms and abuses.
Now, the same (opposition) is running the government with full majority and they should introspect on it (the abuses it hurled at the Congress in the past) and should dedicatedly work towards improving the railways.
"In the meantime, the people have condemned the hikes and hope that this will be the final... The people's expectations must be fulfilled," the edit said.