As Pawan Kumar Bansal presents his first railway budget in Parliament on Tuesday, Punjab has pinned high hopes on the first minister from the region to occupy the important post.
In a chat with the media after paying obeisance at Takht Damdama Sahib here on Monday, former member of parliament Jagmit Brar, who is also member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), hoped that the fifth holy seat of Sikhs would be linked with the other Takhts through rail link, which was long-pending demand of pilgrims.
"Religious and social organisations, and the local legislator have raised the demand with the minister, and from his assurance, I am confidant that the linking of the Takhts will get priority in the budget," said Brar. Bansal is on record saying that Punjab never had got its due in the past 50 years, as far as improving the rail network was concerned. Punjab will wait with bated breath to see how much he meant it.
Bansal, who hails from Tapa Mandi in Punjab, has dropped enough hints that he might give preferential treatment to his home state in the rail budget for the year 2013-14. Brar hoped for a Jan Shatabdai train dedicated to Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev from Ferozepur to Delhi.
"During the visit to Maghi Mela in Muktsar, the railway minister had also indicated that a rail link might be laid between Muktsar and Hazur Sahib and the train might run for three days instead of one," said Brar. "He also promised the state a new train to Rishikesh to facilitate the Hemkunt Sahib pilgrimage. He also had plans for the upgrade of the Muktsar, Fazilka, Guru Har Sahai, and Gidderbaha railway stations; and ordering a survey to lay a railway track between Kotkapura and Moga."
The minister also had promised to build a new rail link between Ferozepur and Patti (Tarn Taran) to bring Malwa and Majha closer. Subject to the Punjab government arranging land, he had also said a rail component factory could be given to the state. "The state government should arrange the land to accept this project that would create a lot of employment."
At Takhat Damdama Sahib, jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh honoured Brar with Siropa (robe of honour) for his efforts to pursue the case of Takht rail link. Congress leaders Ranbir Singh Sidhu, Baltej Singh, Satwant Singh Aulkah, and Gurtej Jeeda accompanied him.