"Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda has in the first instance brought a steep fare hike and has run the train over the common man," an editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece 'Saamna' said today.
Noting that people had voted Narendra Modi to power to save them from inflation, the editorial said, "However, the Railway Minister increased passenger fares by 14 per cent and freight charges by 6.5 per cent. The Mumbai suburban commuters have to face a 100 per cent rise in fares."
Wary of the adverse fallout of the government's decision in election-bound Maharashtra, the Sena said the Centre had given the opposition "a tool to attack us".
"If the same hike had been brought by the Congress, those who would have bombarded it with criticism and abuses are now in government with a full majority," it said.
"The new government should now introspect how it hurled abuses at the previous Congress regime and honestly work towards improving the efficiency of the railways," the editorial said, adding "people expect this should be the final increase."
Earlier, terming the fare hike as "shocking", Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had on Saturday said he will speak to Prime Minister Modi and request him to roll it back.
The measure has badly hit the commuters in Mumbai where 75 lakh people travel by the suburban railway every day, most of them using season passes, the cost of which has shot up two times or more.
The Sena, which together with BJP and other smaller allies, won 42 of Maharashtra's 48 Lok Sabha seats, decimating Congress-NCP combine in the process, does not want the fallout from the unpopular move to adversely affect the alliance's prospects in the legislative assembly elections scheduled later this year.
Latching onto the opportunity, Congress protested the hike at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and its state president Manikrao Thakre led scores of party workers in travelling ticketless to Thane by a suburban train.
Congress ministers Mohammed Naseem Khan and Varsha Gaikwad, Mumbai Congress unit president Janardan Chandurkar, legislators Kripashankar Singh, Rajhans Singh, Anant Gadgil and Haribhau Rathod were present.
On reaching Thane, Thakre said his party would launch a state-wide 'Rail Roko' on June 25 against the hike and intensify protests.
The BJP, he said, would have to bear the consequences of the decision to raise the fares in the assembly elections.
"Rahul Gandhi had said Modi's inflated balloon will burst and it indeed will," he said.