As railway minister, Lalu Prasad claimed to have upgraded 26 railway stations to world-class levels for the last five years. On Tuesday, he joined the Opposition in debunking the project, saying it was an “idea” that can’t be implemented.
In Lok Sabha, BJP’s Ananth Kumar led the attack on Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee during a debate on the railway budget. “Sab kuchh Bangal, baaki sab kangal (all projects for Bengal, the rest are beggars),” he said, referring to her proposal to upgrade 309 stations to ‘model’ status and pointing out that 137 of them were in West Bengal.
Mamata responded by saying there was nothing wrong in it. She was ready to include more stations if any MP suggested.
Lalu then intervened: “World-class station banana to ek soch hai. Yeh banna to hai nahi. Aap pareshan kyon ho rahe hain (to upgrade stations to world-class level is just an idea which cannot be implemented. Why are you worried)?”
When Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani said something, Kumar explained: “Advaniji is saying that after such an admission by Lalu, there is no need for debate.”
In Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said: “Lalu compared the Railways to a Jersey cow that has not been milked. He later claimed to have milked it enough. With a change of alliance, the UPA’s vision has changed.”
“The new minister now promises a white paper on the financial status of the past five years. If Lalu claimed to have brought a turnaround entitling him to lecture at Harvard, the present minister could well author ‘What they don’t teach at Harvard Management School’,” Jaitley added.
Jaitely warned Mamata against allowing the Railways to venture into non-core areas — constructing malls, restaurants, medical colleges — and advised it to stick to the safety and comfort of passengers.
Jaitley and Kumar also questioned Lalu’s claims on profitability of the organization, alleging accounts were juggled during his tenure.