After facing a backlash, not just from the Opposition but also allies and party units over its decision to hike rail fares, the Railway Minister has reportedly promised to consider the situation for Mumbaiites, who use the suburban railways for daily commute.
International Business Times India Edition had on Monday reported that the Maharashtra unit of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had expressed concern over rail fare hikes to the Centre and had urged for concession on suburban fares, which would cost daily commuters in Mumbai up to 200 percent more. BJP ally Shiv Sena had also vehemently slammed the Centre's decision in its party mouthpiece, saying that the government had "run over" the people.
On Tuesday several BJP and Shiv Sena leaders from Maharashtra, including BJP Member of Parliament Kirit Somaiya, met with Railway Minister Sadanand Gowda in Delhi over the issue.
"(The) Railway minister assured us that feelings of Mumbaikars will be considered," India Today quoted Somaiya as saying after the meeting.
Madhav Bhandari, chief spokesperson for the Maharashtra unit of BJP, had told International Business Times India Edition that the state unit of the party was demanding a rollback of the hike for suburban railways and was keen on sending a delegation to Delhi to meet with the Railway Minister. He said the rail fare hike could increase railway pass prices by 100 to 200 percent for Mumbaiites, where over 75 lakh commuters travel by the suburban railways each day.
"Several of our leaders have already expressed our concern personally to Rajnath Singh when he was in Mumbai and have explained the situation. If not a complete rollback, the Centre must at least give concessions on suburban railways as it is used by commuters daily," Bhandari had said.
With the state of Maharashtra set to go in for Assembly polls later this year, the issue could also take political overtones as lakhs of Mumbaiites depend on the local trains for their commute and have been left with no choice but to shell out the excessive amount.
"If the public is angry, we are angry. This is not just for Mumbai and we aren't saying this because Maharashtra goes to elections (in four months). Train fares are important here," Zee News quoted Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut.
While the central government is said to have ruled out a rollback, reports suggested that it would choose to reduce the subsidies for suburban fares over a period of time. The government had announced a hike of 14.2 percent on passenger fares and 6.5 percent on freight charges to be effective from Wednesday, 25 June.