In what is seen as a move to de-escalate tensions with the Trinamool Congress, senior Congress leader and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee is understood to have assured railways minister Dinesh Trivedi of enhancing the extra budgetary support in this year’s rail budget by around Rs 5000 crore.
The development is indicative of a thaw in the relations between the UPA coalition’s lead partner and its biggest ally, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), after a phase of strain and political brinkmanship.
A few months ago, the finance ministry had rejected the railways demand of a bailout package of Rs 2100 crore.
The railways minister is understood to have pitched in with a demand for additional central assistance of Rs 20, 000 crores for executing capital works, including the completion of a long list of pending projects and for undertaking safety-related works.
Upset that West Bengal-related railway projects announced by her during her term as the railways minister have been making a snail’s progress because of funds crunch, Banerjee has been pushing Trivedi to negotiate a higher budgetary outlay in the upcoming railways budget.
At a meeting at Kolkata on January 9, Banerjee is understood to have furnished a “wish list” of West Bengal-related railway schemes.
The railways minister held discussions with Mukherjee last Friday, when the latter is understood to have assured him that the Trinamool Congress chief’s concerns would be addressed.
Slow progress has been marked in respect of 11 projects of doubling of lines in West Bengal, besides 16 projects of the setting up of factories, workshops, training centres besides seven projects each for the survey of lines for the Kolkata Metro and other new lines.