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Three fronts, three different tracks

The Congress hailed the Railway Budget presented by Mamata Banerjee as “pro-people” and in line with the party’s agenda to focus on the aam aadmi, writes Congress leader Digvijay Singh.

business Updated: Jul 05, 2009 21:38 IST Singh, Congress leader

The Congress hailed the Railway Budget presented by Mamata Banerjee as “pro-people” and in line with the party’s agenda to focus on the aam aadmi. Congress leaders believe that the Budget announcements would, in general, help the party consolidate the gains made by the UPA in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls while improving, in particular, the Congress-Trinamool’s prospects of a decisive victory over the Left Front in the assembly elections in West Bengal next year.

Senior leader Digvijay Singh welcomed Banerjee’s decision not to raise passenger fares and to provide proper security for women. He was also happy about the introduction of non-stop trains.
Taking note of Banerjee’s emphasis on providing facilities to the young, the poor and the disadvantaged, including farmers, minorities and women, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said: “The budget builds on the achievements of the UPA government in the last five years… It lays special focus on the SC/ST areas of the country.”

The party commended her for bringing such a budget in the backdrop of the global economic slowdown. “It is the best possible budget in the circumstances and is based on ground realities,” said Janardhan Dwivedi, AICC general secretary.

Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha

The BJP has not been too critical of the Railway Budget presented by Mamata Banerjee on Friday.

The party described it as "unrealistic and based on fantasy." It also accused Banerjee of ignoring vital aspects like security and expansion activities.

“I felt I was hearing a fairy tale when the Railway Budget was being presented,” said BJP’s deputy leader in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj. However, Swaraj welcomed the introduction of special trains for ladies, the young and the Rs 25 passes for those belonging to the unorganised sector.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, described the Railway Budget as one “without a vision... which ignores the big picture. The last six Railway Budgets have promised world class stations but till now we have not seen even one.”

BJP chief Rajnath Singh said people will have to wait for the implementation of the Budget to know whether it is effective or not.

BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said the budget was a “grave injustice” to Bihar. “Nothing has been done for Bihar, the state which I represent. It is a great injustice.” Maharashtra BJP leader Gopinath Munde said that injustice had been done to his state.

Basudeb Acharia, CPI(M) MP and expert on Railways

The generosity shown by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee in the rail budget for her home state, West Bengal, has pushed her bitter rival — the already battered Left Front — on the back foot.

The Left parties fielded veteran MP and an expert on railways, Basudeb Acharia, to comment on the “populist” budget.

Acharia, a nine-time MP and chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on railways in the last Lok Sabha, was extremely careful in his reaction. “Some positive features like no hike in passenger and freight fares are welcome,” he said.

On the announcement for starting many new trains from Bengal, the CPI(M) leader said: “The new trains, most of them for Bengal, have been announced keeping the 2011 assembly elections in mind. Most of the new trains announced outside Bengal were announced by her predecessor Lalu Prasad earlier,” Acharia said.

On Banerjee’s announcement to construct a 1000 MW power plant at Adra in Purulia district, he said, “Without acquiring land at Adra, she has proposed building of this power plant. It is a big project which will require at least 1,000 acres of land.” “I don’t know how she will acquire land for this. She has been opposing land acquisition and now she proposes land acquisition.”