Youth Congress workers protest against the rail fare hike near Rail Bhavan in New Delhi. Picture by Ramakant Kushwaha
New Delhi, June 21: The Congress today protested against the rail fare hike, aiming to expose what it calls the BJP’s double standards.
Party spokesperson Ajay Maken dug up an old tweet of Narendra Modi to make his point. ‘“Issues like price rise don’t concern them. They don’t want to solve anything because of their arrogance.’ Modiji tweeted on 26/10/13. What Now?” Maken asked.
Leader after leader of the Congress pointed out the gap between the stance Modi had taken before the elections and his government’s actions now.
Manish Tewari, the former information and broadcasting minister, advised the BJP to have the moral courage to own its decision to raise rail fares instead of blaming the previous government.
Modi’s railway minister Sadananda Gowda had yesterday said he was “forced to implement” the UPA’s order raising the fares.
Tewari today pointed out that the government could have rejected the decision had it wanted to.
“They have taken a decision contrary to the public position taken by them before the election. There is a lot of distance between the pre-May 16 rhetoric and post-May 16 decisions,” he said.
Like Tewari, general secretary Digvijaya Singh argued that Modi should not blame the previous government for the hard decisions he was taking now.
“To govern a country and to find faults are two different things. There is always a justification for the government to take hard decisions. But should the people be taken for a ride? To be a statesman, a leader has to speak the truth whether in government or Opposition. I hope Modi realises this now,” Digvijaya said.
Former finance minister P. Chidambaram had yesterday acknowledged the need for hard decisions to keep the economy in good health but issued a point-by-point rebuttal of Modi’s claim that the UPA government had left empty coffers. He expressed the hope that Modi would now come out of campaign mode and start governing.
Congress leaders privately admit that the stagnant train fares had made railway finances unmanageable and hit modernisation plans. They support the increase in freight and fares, but are pointing to the BJP’s past statements to make the case that its vicious criticism of the Manmohan Singh government was unfounded and irresponsible.
The Congress is hoping that the tough decisions Modi is taking after raising public expectations with lofty promises will change the mood in the country sooner than later and hurt the BJP in the Maharashtra and Haryana elections.