New Delhi: The result of four by-elections including Hisar Lok Sabha constituency has forced the United Progress Alliance (UPA) government not to hike the railway passenger fare. The government is now likely to tweak the fare rates only after the Assembly elections in five states next year.

The uneasiness of the government after the by-poll results can be gauzed from the fact that the Centre has also shelved the proposal of limiting the subsidized LPG cylinders to each household.

The Ministry of Finance and the Planning Commission have been asked to stop pressurizing the Railways for increasing passenger fare.

Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi is in fact looking for a ‘dynamic policy’ which suggests fluctuation of the passenger fare according to demand-supply trend in line with goods fare.

The decision is aimed at preparing groundwork for pitching the argument of the government that Parliament’s ratification is not required to hike rail fare and it could be done without incorporating it into the rail budget. It must be noted that in the history of Railways, no hike has been made without incorporating it in the rail budget.

The Election Commission is planning to hold Assembly polls in five states in Feb-March next year. The UPA government can’t afford to hike fare during that time because it would mar the political prospects of the Congress and its allies in the polls.

That is why Trivedi chose to opt for dynamic fare policy in the rail budget, which will be implemented after the Assembly polls results.

Former Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee too is against any hike in passenger fare to avoid any criticism from the Left Front in West Bengal.

During the Economic Editors’ conference this week, Trivedi had informed about considering a dynamic policy adding that hike in fare will not bring much revenue to the railway.

JPN/Bureau