Focusing on the “transformation” theme for the Indian Railways, Prime Minister Narendra Modi put up a strong defense of his government’s decision to discard the 92-year old practice of presenting a separate rail budget in parliament on Friday.
“The century has changed, so the railways should also change. There should be new speed, progress and new capacity and it should also gain financial strength,” the Prime Minister said in an address to railway employees via video conferencing at the ‘Rail Vikas Shivir’ (rail development camp) that began at Surajkund in Delhi’s outskirts today.
The Prime Minister is scheduled to visit the camp on the concluding day of the event on Sunday.
Saying that the current century was technology driven, the Prime Minister called upon railway men to be more innovative.
On the decision to scrap the practice of presenting a separate rail budget in parliament, Modi said earlier rail budget speeches had been an exercise in announcing new trains or stoppages for the benefit of one MP or another.
“They are used to clapping on such announcements in Parliament. When I took over, I noticed that 1500 announcements regarding railways had been made previously, which had remained confined only to clapping,” he said.
Saying that he could have persisted with the same approach to collect claps and praise, the Prime Minister said he chose to “remain free from the love for political gains”.
Referring to the government’s decision to refrain from making populist announcements in the rail budget speeches in the last two years, Modi said that he “showed courage”. “The focus of our rail budgets has not been on politics. We have worked towards a paradigm shift”, he added.
Striking an emotional chord with railway men, the Prime Minister – who is said to have sold tea at stations in his childhood – referred to his special affection for the Railways. “I have spent so much of my early days at railway platforms and have witnessed the working of the transporter from close quarters”, he said.