Opposition parties in the Lok Sabha on Monday criticised Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee for focussing on her home state West Bengal while announcing new projects and requested her to give equal attention to other states.
Initiating a debate on the Railway Budget, Shahnawaz Hussain (BJP) said if she announced and implemented projects for other states, particularly Bihar, it would only bolster her party's chances to rule neighbouring West Bengal.
"Your penchant for announcing projects for West Bengal is fine. But please focus equally on projects for other states, if not more. In particular, if you provide more attention on Bihar, which has a sizable Bengali population in the border with West Bengal, your journey to the Writers' Building will be much quicker," Hussain said.
Trying to dispel the impression that Bihar had benefited more as several of the recent Railway Ministers were from that state, he said most projects for the state announced by former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad had remained unfulfilled.
"Prasad announced 18 world-class stations, but he could not inaugurate even one during his tenure as Railway Minister," he said, wondering if a similar fate would befall the 25 world-class stations announced by Banerjee.
Hussain urged Banerjee to complete some of the railway projects, particularly in eastern Bihar, such as the Kosi Bridge, to ensure better railway connectivity.
He demanded compulsory reserved seats on trains for MPs traveling between Delhi and their constituency when Parliament is in session.
However, defending the projects announced by Banerjee, Nirma Khattri (Congress) said when the Railway Minister announced projects for Kolkata or Mumbai, it should not be construed as a welfare measure for that particular city, as these metros represented mini-India.
Shailendra Kumar (SP) said letters written by him and other MPs to Banerjee were replied by her Minister of State.
To this, Banerjee replied that it was a big ministry and all the ministers worked as a team.
Gorakh Nath Pandey (BSP) demanded a Duronto train from Allahabad to Mumbai.
Sudip Bandhopadhyay (Trinamool) said the minister should be appreciated for not increasing passenger fares and freight.
He demanded that Railways should be provided security against continuous attacks by Maoists.
Praising Banerjee for giving lots of benefits, Anand Paranjpayee (Shiv Sena) said, "Yeh dil mange more (this heart wants more)".
Supriya Sule (NCP) wanted more compensation amount to train accident victims.