Bengal bus fare hike: Has Mamata Banerjee fell into her own trap?

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After a three day strike by bus owners from August 20, West Bengal chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has finally decided to hike bus fares in the State. In West Bengal, the fares were last revised in November 2012.

The fares will go up by Re 1 at every stage and the minimum fare will now be Rs 6. The decision was taken after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met the representatives of six bus owners' organisations.

"The minimum fare for buses will be Rs 6 and for minibuses Rs 7 and will increase by Re 1 over existing fares in every stage excepting beyond 16 km," senior state minister Partha Chatterjee said after a meeting held by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with bus and minibus operators.

"The Chief Minister has also ordered setting up of a task force to suggest future fare revision on the basis of change in fuel and spare parts," Chatterjee, the state Higher Education Minister and member of the GoM on Transport said.

Didi trying to score on slow pitch?

But how did Didi decide to go against her populist agenda of appeasement of voters who in 2012 had pressurised the Centre to sack the then Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi who had proposed to hike rail fare and freight rate for generating more revenue for the railway department.

Banerjee who has been against development had once said, "Reforms are meant to usher development for the people. Now-a-days, the trend is whenever any anti-people decision is taken, it is taken in the name of reforms."

If this is the case then Didi why have you done this fare hike now?

After pressure from bus unions, the state government decided to revise the rates and it seems that the TMC government has now woken up from a deep slumber and realised that making such hikes is needed for state's growth and is not anti-poor.

"The decision was taken considering the demands by operators in the transport sector following increase in price of diesel and spare parts," West Bengal Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee was quoted as saying.

Earlier, the same Mamata Banerjee and her party were seen coming out on the roads every time the central leadership decided to make the much needed hike in railway fares. Mamata Banerjee was quick to react to this move citing it as an anti-poor.

So what Mamata government now need to answer is, if the decisions taken by the centre were anti-poor then what should be understood by the recent move by the state government? Is the hike not going to affect the people of Bengal?

Well, it is now clearly visible that Didi has now fallen into her own trap and has given an opportunity to the resurgent BJP in the state to expose her.

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