The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday asked Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee "not to make Indian Railways an East India Company" and alleged that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has favoured West Bengal at the cost of many other states in the rail budget.
"India is not (West) Bengal. 109 adarsh (ideal) stations out of 309 have gone to Bengal (which is in the east). What is going to happen to the rest of the country? Don't make the railways an East India Company," said BJP leader Ananth Kumar during discussion on railway budget in the Lok Sabha.
States including Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand were neglected in the railway budget, he said.
He said the railway budget was the election manifesto for 2011 West Bengal polls.
Ananth Kumar's allegations irritated Banerjee, who intervened many times during his speech to clarify the ministry's position on various allegations.
At one point of time, Banerjee shouted: "I respect your state. I respect India. Please don't insult my state."
The BJP MP, who is also party general secretary, began his speech congratulating Banerjee for defeating the Left parties in West Bengal in the recently held Lok Sabha polls and for declaring that a white paper should be issued on the railways. Taking a dig at former railway minister Lalu Prasad, Ananth Kumar said the white paper would not be complete if the work of the last five years' activities of the ministry was not included in it.
The BJP MP suggested an independent regulator to implement the railways minister's proposal for public-private participation in setting up businesses on lands belonging to the railways.
At this, Banerjee intervened and clarified that the railways was not selling its property, but only utilising it.