Post railway budget, railway minister Mamata Banerjee continues to draw flak from her predecessor and RJD chief Lalu Prasad who is all fire at the finer prints of the budget. His main cause of ire: "Didi” has derailed several major projects of Bihar sanctioned during his tenure.
Lalu's pet projects, which include the Dalmiyanagar couplers factory, Sonepur wagon factory, sanctioned projects for laying of new tracks and few other projects launched by him as railway minister during his stint from 2004-09 have been allocated just Rs 1 crore, he claimed.
“It is gross injustice. We will not tolerate such discrimination,” said Lalu, talking to reporters on Tuesday. He insisted that he would not be lying low in Parliament and would take take up Bihar’s cause.
Incidentally, Mamata’s bid to appease Lalu by giving a handsome share to the latter’s ambitious project of extending tracks via his native village Phulwaria upto Bhatiani (train is running from Hatua to Phulwaria) has impressed the RJD chief little.
“That is already in its final stages” said Lalu, highlighting that the budget’s decision of introducing PPP model to set up the two big mega projects, the electric locomotive factory at Madhepura and Diesel Engine factory at Marhaura would further delay the project. Lalu’s ire is understandable as both the projects worth a few thousand crores fall in his present parliamentary constituency of Chapra and previous constituency, Madhepura.
Lalu is also peeved at the way railway minister had given more preference to projects launched during Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s stint as railway minister like the Harnaut Coach Maintenance factory, Digha-Sonepur road cum railway bridge , Munger and Kosi bridge. Mamata has allocated Rs 40 crore for the Kosi bridge , Rs 65 crore to Munger bridge and Rs 70 crore for the approach road of Digha- Sonepur bridge.
“It’s a deliberate action and reflects the bias. I feel this is the reason why the Chief Minister has appreciated the railway budget,” said Lalu, adding that Kumar should explain how the budget was good when decisions like conducting a railway examination on a single day would prove detrimental for examinees from Bihar. “Bihar’s academic calender is already delayed. More so, how would examinees be able to take examination of other boards on a single day? It’s all been done to deprive Biharis of railway jobs,” he said.
He said the projects given paltry allocations include for laying of tracks between Ara- Sasaram, Darbhanga- Kusheshwarsthan, Chapra –Muzaffarpur, Bihta- Aurangabad, Matihani- Sitamarhi, Sitarmarhi- Nirmali , Muzaffarpur- Jamalpur Rd, Araria- Supaul, Gaya Daltonganj via Rafiganj , Baniyapur- Katoria and Sultanganj- Katoria –Asarganj via Belhar.
Most of these projects were earmarked in north Bihar, a RJD stronghold and criss-crossed through parliamentary constituency of Lalu and few other RJD’s former ministers. “ "Even the Dalmiyanagar Coupler factory has been given only Rs 1 crore. Would it ever see the light of the day,” asked Lalu, insisting that the railways would soon go in the red with operation cost ratio rising from 75.9 per cent ( 07-08) to 94.7 per cent in 09-10.
With Mamata already up in arms against Lalu after trashing his achievements in a white paper, it appears the war of words between the two temperamental leaders would only aggravate in the days to come.