The BJP has given the thumbs down to the Rail Budget, criticising Mamata Banerjee for acting more like the Railways Minister of West Bengal, and not the country, in allocation of projects to her native state.
Accusing the minister of exceeding her brief, the party said the budget had more to do with other ministries than the railways.
“She wants to work on matters concerning all other ministries except the railways,” deputy leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, Gopinath Munde, said. “It looks like interference in others’ areas.” It listed out projects like setting sports academies, hostels for children of employees, 10 eco-parks and 381 diagnostic centres in support of its argument.
“Most projects are in West Bengal. She has done injustice to other states,” Munde said. “She should remember she is India’s railway minister.”
None of the social welfare projects announced last year had been successful, but still new ones were announced without assessing last year’s performance, he said.
“There is obviously no accountability that the rail minister has to either the prime minister or the council of ministers,” a party release said. “She continues to operate as an isolated island. The railway shall continue to suffer on this count.”
Spokesman Prakash Javdekar was equally harsh. “Safe passenger and freight traffic is the aim of railways. Her priorities are sports, hospitals, malls, colleges and crèches, which are not the duty of a railway minister.”
The BJP said extending Tatkal (on-the-spot ticket) facility to freight and parcel services would mean that charges could be increased surreptitiously, just like passenger fares, he said.
The party also hit out at Banerjee on the issue of land acquisition — the stick she often uses the Left government in West Bengal to beat with. “How will she add 25,000 km of railway track without any land acquisition will be a marvel in itself,” the party said.
Left slams Mamata
The Left parties slammed the Railway Budget, saying it’s aimed at the coming assembly elections in West Bengal.
“Far from containing any vision for the future of the Indian Railways, the Budget speech has sought to conceal gross failures through misleading announcements and gimmicks aimed at the coming assembly elections in West Bengal”, the CPM politburo said.