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Economy Mar 19, 2012

Mamata indicates rollback in sleeper class fares

New Delhi: With her confidant Mukul Roy set to take charge as railway minister on Tuesday, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee today indicated there could be some rollback in passenger fare hike.

She said hike in upper class train fares was "tolerable" but stuck to her demand for a rollback of fare hike in sleeper class in which common people travel.

"If our nominee will become Railway Minister then we will modify the fares. There is no problem in the hike in upper class fares. We have no objection...it is tolerable. But for those who are poor, who travel daily in trains or those who travel in sleeper classes, it matters," she said before going to attend the Trinamool parliamentary party meting in New Delhi.

Getting her way. Image courtesy PIB

Disagreeing with the formula of hike of one paisa or two paisa per km, she said, "In railways there is no travel for a distance of mere one km or two km distance. It is always more than 100 km or so in urban areas for people who go to office daily. If you count those two paisa per km then it will come to a good amount."

"Common people travel in sleeper classes. Whatever we do the common people should not suffer. This is our policy," the West Bengal Chief Minister said.

Asked who will be the next railway minister she threw ample hints about Mukul Roy without naming him saying, "Whatever we have to say we have already said so by writing a letter to the Prime Minister. You do not have to say everyday as it is a tradition followed in democracy. If we change it then only we will give another letter. Letter is already with the PM."

Asked to comment on the PM regretting the departure of Trivedi, she said, "It is his prerogative to say. Every individual has right to give his opinion. It is their opinion not our opinion."

However, Banerjee refused to comment on whether any action will be taken against Dinesh Trivedi for proposing hike in train fares in the Rail Budget.

On the fare hike she said, "I was not aware of the recent freight hike also. As per the decision of 20 percent freight hike, railways will earn Rs 20,000 crore in a year."

Railways hiked the freight rate upto 20 percent on every commodity on 6 March ahead of the Rail Budget.

Expressing her unhappiness about the prevailing situation, she said, "We only have one cabinet berth in the ministry while other allies have more cabinet ministers though we are the largest ally of the government.

"We have not sought anything from the government. Till now we did not have a party office in Parliament. We have not sought to be member of any commission or committee. TMC has not sought any favour from the government."

PTI


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