Infighting between the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has spared state transport bus commuters of a hefty fare hike.
While Congress leader and transport minister, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, proposed a hike between five and 12 per cent, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) chairman and NCP leader, Sudhakar Paricharak, opposed the proposal.
Following Paricharak’s protest, the corporation has decided to implement an average hike of 3.57 per cent. Sources at the MSRTC said the hike will be in force from October 5.
Vikhe-Patil and Paricharak, former NCP legislator from Pandharpur in western Maharashtra, have always been at loggerheads over transport policy matters.
Paricharak felt that the people, who are reeling under inflation, would protest a major fare hike.
Around 72 lakh passengers use MSRTC buses daily. The corporation, with 70,000 buses, is the largest in the country.
Before MSRTC authorities could declare the hike, Paricharak made an announcement in his town, Pandharpur, that the average hike will not be more than four percent.
Chief minister, Ashok Chavan, and actor, Shah Rukh Khan, were to launch the MSRTC-operated city transport in Chavan’s hometown Nanded on Sunday.
Fearing embarrassment, MSRTC agreed to the proposal moved by Paricharak.
Vikhe-Patil was unavailable for comment on Sunday but he told Hindustan Times earlier this week that a hike was imminent because of additional fuel costs.
“Also, MSRTC is spending more on giving better services,” he said.
An MSRTC official, requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said that his seniors would make an official hike announcement soon.