Opposition parties in both Houses of Parliament continued to attack Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee over the Railway budget, accusing her of neglecting all states other than West Bengal. The Minister is expected to reply to the debate in both Houses on Thursday.
In both Houses, demands for trains to specific constituencies or states were made through the day by MPs representing those areas, interspersed with their observations on the budget proposals that the Rail Minister had put forth.
In the Rajya Sabha, the debate witnessed independent MP from Karnataka; Rajeev Chandrasekhar put forth some interesting suggestions. He wanted a CAG audit to be conducted on Railways as is the case with other ministries.
Chandrasekhar said the government needed to bring out its white paper on Railways as soon as possible as there was a strong general perception, now, that the Railways had not been performing as well as projected in the last five years.
Chandrashekhar suggested that the Railway ministry needed to focus on expanding the railway network. He said in addition to this, Utilization and Efficiency, Project Management, Customer experience enhancement, Premium Trains, Freight tariff regulator, Public Private Partnerships and Railways Financial investments were the key areas for the entity to focus on in the coming few years.
In the Lok Sabha, senior BJP member Gopinath Munde pointed out that Banerjee was doing the same thing that her predecessor did. “When Lalu was the Railway Minister, it was all Bihar and when Mamata is the Railway Minister it is West Bengal,” Munde said. He added that the main difference was that Prasad’s budgets focussed on the Lok Sabha elections while Banerjee's kept the upcoming West Bengal Assembly polls in mind.
Munde also took potshots at NCP chief Sharad Pawar saying that the eight Maharashtra ministers in the cabinet would do well to remember that their own state was also going to polls.
First-time MP Sher Singh Ghubaya of the Akali Dal, in his maiden speech, said “injustice” had been meted out to Punjab. He regretted that none of the state’s railway stations had been listed for upgradation to world-class level, a sentiment echoed by other MPs from the same state in the Rajya Sabha too.