Railway Minister Lalu Prasad came under attack from friends and foes alike for presenting a "parochial" and "discriminatory" Budget for 2008-09 amid claims that the "UPA train" has met with a serious accident ahead of polls.
"The Express train of UPA before going to elections has met with serious accident," Samajwadi Party leader Mohan Singh said reacting to the budget.
Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj described the exercise as "totally discriminatory against the BJP ruled states especially Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh".
CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta was more caustic as he wondered whether Finance Minister P Chidambaram or Prasad carried out the exercise.
Dasgupta said it was a budget for affluent middle class and there was no benefit given for travellers in local trains and monthly ticket holders. "We are totally opposing the budget", he said.
"It is a parochial budget. The new trains are going between Patna and Chennai", his party colleague Sudhakar Reddy said adding that it was an "imbalanced" budget.
Reddy as also Dasgupta alleged that the fifth consecutive Railway Budget presented by Prasad addressed more to the affluent class than the common man.
Mohan Singh as also BJD's Brajkishore Mohanty and Swaraj said the budget neglected several states including Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Gujarat.
"The walkout of members from all sides from the Lok Sabha has exposed the hollowness of Lalu Prasad's Railway Budget", BJP Deputy leader VK Malhotra said dubbing it as a "disappointing" budget.
Manohar Joshi (Shiv Sena) said it was an election-oriented budget, which promised a lot but gave nothing. Mohan Singh as also Dasgupta said Prasad has started the privatisation process with a bang. "If there are five such budgets, there will be no need for any future budget as by that time the railways would have been privatised".
"It is a budget which opens up total privatisation on railways, encourages contractual work and private-public partnership," Dasgupta said regreting that there was no word for suburban commuters, season ticket holders and second class commuters.
Though there were more than one lakh vacancies in railways, nothing was said about any recruitment drive, Dasgupta said.
Eknath Gaikwad (Cong) hailed the budget for providing relief to the common man through five per cent cut in fares. He also said that several provisions would help the suburban commuters in Mumbai a lot.
CPI Rajya Sabha member and party Secretary D Raja noted certain positive measures in the rail budget but said the privatisation of various activities was a "distressing trend".
"Almost all future rail activities will be financed by private resources," he said and stressed that there was a need to maintain "regional balance".
Among the positive aspects, Raja said while the fares had not been raised, these had in fact been reduced for various sections, including women, senior citizens and other categories.