Arvind Kejriwal had offered to bear half of the losses of the Delhi Metro to prevent the fare hike
As other political parties seek to capitalise on the public resentment against the hike in Delhi metro fare, the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party are escalating their attack on the centre that had asked the Aam Aadmi Party government to pay Rs 3,000 crore annually
if it didn't want the hike.
In a sarcastically-worded reply to Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday, the Chief Minister called the fare hike
a "Diwali gift for the people of Delhi duly wrapped in your... letter".
Mr Kejriwal asked Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri why it was all right for the centre to bear losses for Kolkata Metro, but not Delhi. Or why commuters in Delhi should pay three times more than what commuters in Kolkata pay.
The Chief Minister, who had offered to bear half the losses
that the metro incurs till a relook is taken at the fare hike, also called for restructuring the management structure of the Delhi Metro. The city government is an equal partner in the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation but this partnership "is only a facade", he said according to news agency Press Trust of India, underlining that the state government virtually has no say in the metro's management.
That union minister Hardeep Puri suggested that the metro's operational losses must be borne "solely by the Delhi government", Mr Kejriwal said, only establishes the "absurdity" of the prevailing arrangement.
The Chief Minister said it wasn't that his government was against fare hikes but it should be allowed "only to the extent necessary".
The new fare that became effective earlier this month was the second hike this year. This means that Delhi commuters have to pay 100 per cent more than what they were paying till May this year.
"I cannot recall a single tariff hike of over 100 per cent for any public service in sectors such as transport, electricity and water. It demonstrates a complete lack of compassion for the common man," Mr Kejriwal said. He blamed the centre for having slept on the demand for a hike from the metro for seven years, waking up and then making the people pay for its mistake.
The DMRC had gone ahead with the fare hike despite the AAP government's strident opposition. But after the city's political parties sensed the public anger, they too joined in to protest. Their target for the attack, however, depended on their politics.
Taking the lead, Delhi Minister and convenor of AAP's Delhi unit Gopal Rai is slated to lead a protest outside the Urban Development ministry office at Nirman Bhawan in the heart of the national capital.
Manjinder S Sirsa, an Akali Dal lawmaker, blamed Mr Kejriwal for not raising his voice earlier.
Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken launched the "Save Metro Rath" today that will start from Akshardham station in east Delhi. "Mr Kejriwal and BJP have made Diwali bitter for the people of Delhi through the hike in the metro fare," Mr Maken said.