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Govt, Opposition spar in Parliament over bullet train project, lynchings

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the cost of the bullet train project was exorbitant and the amount could have been spent on activities like doubling of thousands of kilometres of railway tracks or opening up of new divisions.

india Updated: Jul 25, 2018 15:22 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Bullet train project,lynchings,Lok Sabha
The Congress and the government were involved in a heated exchange in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. (Pradeep Gaur/ Mint)

The Congress and the government were involved in a heated exchange in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday with the opposition party terming the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project’s cost as exorbitant and the latter alleging that the previous regime had sanctioned projects for “narrow political gains”.

The skirmish began during question hour over the Rs 1.10 lakh crore project. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the cost of the project was exorbitant and the amount could have been spent on activities like doubling of thousands of kilometres of railway tracks or opening up of new divisions.

Kharge’s remarks drew a sharp response from railway minister Piyush Goyal who alleged that during the Congress rule railway projects were sanctioned keeping in view “narrow political gains”. He also said railway ministers then sanctioned many projects in their own constituencies, without caring about the health of the railways.

Goyal said the bullet train project was funded by a 50-year loan from Japan for an interest of just 0.1% and there was a moratorium on the repayment of the loan for 15 years. He said there were projects sanctioned by previous Congress governments which did not begin even after 40 years.

Congress MPs loudly protested Goyal’s remarks but were countered by BJP who were equally vociferous.

There was more trouble during Zero Hour with the BJP and the Trinamool Congress over a mob attack on four women in West Bengal, forcing Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to adjourn the proceedings briefly.

Trouble began after BJP member Kirit Somaiya raised the issue of alleged lynching of people, including women, in West Bengal and Kerala.

Members from Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Left began protesting against the allegations. Some TMC and BJP members engaged in heated exchanges.

Kalyan Banerjee and Idris Ali of the TMC walked across the Well of the House towards Somaiya, who also moved towards the Well before parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar and few other ministers intervened to pacify the angry TMC members.

Amid the din, the Speaker adjourned the proceedings for about ten minutes till 12:30 pm.

Meanwhile, in the Rajya Sabha YSR MP V Vijayasai Reddy apologised to Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu for his remarks on Tuesday after the Chair did not give him extra time to complete his speech on the implementation of the AP Reorganisation Act.

“I am sorry for the incident, (for) what happened yesterday,” Reddy said adding the issue was very emotive and he felt adequate opportunity was not given to him to express his views.

Reddy’s remarks did not go on record of the proceedings.

“Sir, you can’t deny an opportunity to me... When the TDP has been given 20 minutes, how can I be denied?,” he had said. He disagreed with the Chair that he was given seven minutes time.

“No, you can’t disagree with the Chair, and then, continue like this... Nothing is going on record,” Naidu had ruled.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Jul 25, 2018 15:21 IST