No clear stand by Congress on rail fare hike

Written by: Pti
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New Delhi, Mar 14: Even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailed the rail budget as "forward-looking", Congress today refrained from taking a clear stand on fare hike even as Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi faced an embarrassment with his own party Trinamool Congress opposing it.

"Congress is not opposing it but as of now we are trying to create a consensus," party spokesperson Rashid Alvi told reporters here when asked whether the party supports the hike in rail fares.

Alvi's refrain was the same when repeatedly asked to clarify whether his statement meant Congress supported the budget. "We will not oppose it but it is upon the members of Parliament to give their opinion.

This is the Railway Minister's proposal. Parliament will decide on it after discussion," said Alvi when asked whether Congress backs the Railway Minister for his budget proposals including the fare hike.

Asked whether Congress will try to forge a consensus in favour of fare hike, Alvi said it is not decided before hand what the consensus would be. "We will go by whatever Parliament decides. Parliament is in session."

The Congress spokesperson at the same time praised the highlights of the railway budget including its proposals to increase connectivity in North East and Jammu and Kashmir and plans to enhance security.

"There are many things in the budget which we should appreciate," he said.

Asked to comment on the statement of Trinamool Congress leaders opposing the rail fare hike, Alvi merely said "this is a matter that concerns their party. Whether it is the view of their some MPs or the party view, I do not know." When pointed out that Trinamool Congress leaders have said the government did not consult Trinamool Congress for railway budget, Alvi said the Railway Minister, after all, is a member of Trinamool Congress.


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