Modi government's decision to introduce dynamic surge pricing system on Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto trains came under heavy fire from the opposition parties and many on Twitter, who dubbed it as an "anti-people" move aimed at "stealing" money from public pockets.
Media house India Today's star anchor Rahul Kanwal defended the government's move on Twitter, terming it a much-needed step to generate revenue. He said that people who travel on these "premium" trains are not poor and can afford the surge pricing.
Criticism of rail price hike political opportunism. How is @sureshpprabhu supposed to generate revenues if relatively well off don't pay.— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) September 7, 2016
Folks spend thousands of rupees in malls every weekend. Same folks expect rail traffic to be dirt cheap. Why. You pay when you travel abroad— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) September 7, 2016
People expect railway facilities to be at par with bullet trains but don't want to pay for the service. This attitude needs to change.— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) September 7, 2016
Then, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia jumped in questioning the logic of Kanwal's defense, which triggered an argument between the two.
@msisodia Sir what's wrong with the logic. Poor people are not having to pay more. The rich can very well afford to spend a little more.— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) September 7, 2016
@msisodia No good service comes for free. If passengers want railway services to improve, they must be willing to pay for it.— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) September 7, 2016
Sisodia hit back at the journalist saying that these trains are also for the common man and not all of them are rich.
अरे आप तो भड़क गए! कर लीजिए जस्टिफाई. वैसे ये गाड़ियां उनके ये भी हैं जो रिच नहीं हैं। हर आम आदमी रिच नहीं होता है। https://t.co/vO45hVH4BW— Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) September 7, 2016
@msisodia if the poor were forced to pay more, then political attacks would be warranted. Nothing wrong with surge pricing on premium trains— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) September 7, 2016
Now, the debate up till this point was rather civilised, which is very much unlike a normal Twitter argument. But then entered Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the rather healthy debate turned into a troll-fest.
Kejriwal labelled Kanwal as a spokesperson of Modi government which didn't go down too well with the India Today anchor.
Modi ji's spokesperson gets angry ... https://t.co/0FTdyhnoeN— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) September 7, 2016
@ArvindKejriwal having contrarian view doesn't make one a spokesperson. But to appreciate this requires higher level of evolution than yours— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) September 7, 2016
This is what happens when trolls get elected Chief Ministers! https://t.co/tPxm184Esv— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) September 7, 2016
Though Kejriwal went silent after only one tweet, the long drawn-out argument between Kanwal and Sisodia now got ugly.