Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, June 23:
Former Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) President Niranjan Patnaik has criticized the Naveen Patnaik government for going soft on the BJP lead NDA government at the Centre on the issue of the hike in passenger rail fare by 14.2 % and freight by 6 %.
“After parading his MPs before the Delhi durbar and promising constructive support, Naveen Babu is in no position to speak strongly against the Central Government. In fact, why was he parading his MPs when other CMs like Jaylalitha met the PM in a dignified official way? What was he trying to prove by parading his MPs before the PM?” he asked in a statement released here today.
Patnaik also lambasted the NDA government on its decision to raise both passenger fare and freight rates just ahead of the Rail budget.
At a time when the country is already reeling under severe inflationary pressure because of rise in prices of onion and potatoes and serious apprehension of a further rise in prices of Petrol and Diesel because of the growing uncertainties in the entire middle east and particularly Iraq, the increase in passenger fare and freight charges will have a cascading effect and drive the economy into an inflationary spiral, Patnaik said.
“While campaigning during election, the BJP had promised to the people of India that they will reign in inflation. But, once they secured the mandate of the people, they are talking about ‘bitter pill’. In the past, all such economic decisions by the UPA Government were termed as ‘anti-people’ and now they have become ‘necessities for a stronger economy’. People of India have been cheated by supposedly an honest government,” he said.
The Railways have not been incurring any operational loss and therefore the central Government should have waited for the regular budget to find funds for ongoing railway projects, the senior Congress leader said.
The former PCC president took the BJD government in the state for raising excise duties on Petroleum products. “This will mean that people of Odisha will pay more than people of other states. It will affect ordinary people like the owner of a motor cycle and the consequent rise in bus fare will affect many more people. The State Government’s economic managers should have been cognizant of the high food inflation and apprehension of increase in Petroleum prices because of the Iraq situation,” he said.
Terming the decision of the state Government ‘ill-timed, unjustified and avoidable’, Patnaik said the BJD is clueless about economic growth. Unable to find a way of augmenting revenue collection, it had passed on the burden to the common man to fund populist sops that can win votes. “Why has the growth rate dipped and why has the revenue collection been poor except poor management of the state’s economy?” he asked.
The former Minister has demanded an immediate roll back on the rise in passenger fare by the central government and the increase in excise on petroleum products by the state government. “It seems the BJP in Delhi and the BJD in the state are competing against each other to produce higher rates of inflation only after a few days of winning the election,” the statement said.