The DMK today staged state-wide agitations against the recent hike in bus fares effected by the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu and warned of intensifying its protests if the revision was not rolled back immediately. DMK working president and Leader of Opposition in Tamil Nadu Assembly, M K Stalin, demanded that Chief Minister K Palaniswami should immediately withdraw the hike or resign. “The chief minister had said the hike was effected with anguish. If indeed so, it should be immediately withdrawn. Else, you (Palaniswami) have got no option left other than to resign,” Stalin said. He said his party would wait for a couple of days to see whether the state government acted on their plea, else would start staging protests without permission. In other words, it would be a ‘jail bharo’ agitation, he said. Stalin said the January 19 increase in bus fares had come as a “jolt” to the ordinary people, adding many of them such as daily wage labourers were now forced to spend a large part of their earnings towards commuting in buses.
“I had written to the chief minister four days back, asking him to withdraw the hike, and that the matter should be discussed in the state assembly for which the House should be convened. But they are only giving accounts of losses (suffered by transport corporations) but have no time for remedial measures,” he said. The DMK has, therefore, constituted a panel under senior party leader and former Union minister T R Baalu to probe ways to reduce bus fares, Stalin said. He recalled that during the DMK rule of 2006-11, his father and then chief minister M Karunanidhi had never effected such a hike, despite repeated pleas from officials of the transport department.
Karunanidhi would decline their plea saying state-run transport corporations were not meant to make profit and that any losses should be borne keeping in mind the interests of the people, Stalin said. After a hiatus of six years, the AIADMK government had on January 19 hiked ticket fares of buses operated by state-run transport corporations and private entities by about 20 to 54.54 per cent, drawing flak from civil society and political parties alike.