From breathing life into three railway projects in Rae Bareilly and Madhepura to fixing the compensation rate of Rs 80 for every chicken killed in Andaman and Nicobar Islands during the tsunami four years ago, the UPA government was on fast track on Monday to beat the model code of conduct expected to be in place within the next fortnight.
At a three-hour-long meeting on Monday, the Cabinet cleared over 45 proposals, including amendments to five laws, refurbishing half-a-dozen schemes and policies as well as reviewing the efficacy of the special recruitment drive for scheduled castes and tribes that the government had promised when it came to power.
A decision on another 10 proposals was deferred or put on hold at the meeting that, statistically, clocked one decision every four minutes including the one imposing stock limits on sugar to tame prices till elections are over.
With the general elections expected to begin early April, there is a good chance that the government would squeeze in one more cabinet meeting before the model code comes into force.
The code restrains the government from announcing sensitive decisions without the clearance from the Election Commission.
The three railway projects are a good speedometer to gauge the pace at which the government is moving.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram said a diesel locomotive factory will come up at Marhowra and an electric locomotive one at Madhepura — constituencies in Bihar from where Railway Minister Lalu Prasad contests. These units along with the rail coach factory planned for UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli constituency in UP will come up as wholly owned production units of the railways.
In effect, Monday’s meeting reversed the decision taken just two weeks ago to set up the factories as a joint venture since the earlier plan to go for a public-private partnership failed to evoke a good response.
The Home Minister said that the response to the joint venture formula wasn’t good enough.