Slogan shouting and walkouts by the Opposition are not an unusual sight during the presentation of a Budget, but on Tuesday, Lalu Prasad’s Rail Budget received criticism from even Congress members.
Among them were Adhir Chowdhury and Avtar Singh Bhadana — two Congressmen from Bengal and Haryana respectively — and others from the south who said their states had been “neglected”. So vociferous was the protest that Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Das Munsi had to rush to pacify them.
The budget also split CPI(M) MPs from West Bengal and Kerala. While those from the east walked out shouting Bengal had been “ignored”, their counterparts from Kerala were seen sitting quietly, satisfied at the announcement that a locomotive factory would come up in their state.
The BJP adopted a state-wise approach. First MPs from Gujarat stood up opposing the budget followed by those from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka. Each group staged their own walkout. Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani, however, stayed in the House till it was adjourned after the Railway Minister’s speech.
Joining the Opposition were members of the Samajwadi Party and the BSP.
With protest all around, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee asked the members to calm down and raise their objections during a debate on the budget. With no one relenting, the Speaker asked Lalu Prasad to table the speech, which was ignored. After repeated requests, the minister complied.