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Left threatens voting against Railway Budget

The Left parties on Friday said they would vote against the Railway Budget if their concerns were not addressed.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2006 00:47 IST

The Left parties, which have been on warpath with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government on economic and foreign policy issues, on Friday said they would vote against the Railway Budget if their concerns were not addressed.

"We will vote against the Railway Budget if our demands are not rectified," leaders of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) that leads the Left Front told reporters in Delhi.

The Left MPs were in the well of the Lok Sabha during Railway Minister Lalu Prasad's budget presentation, protesting against the absence of new trains to Kolkata and non-inclusion of the state in the eastern freight corridor.

"We feel greatly perturbed that the government has chosen to brush aside our sentiments, which was also in the knowledge of the prime minister, finance minister (P Chidambaram) and the railway minister," the leaders of the CPI-M and Communist Party of India (CPI) said at a joint press conference.

Despite the communists' demand for eastern corridor from Kolkata to Delhi, Lalu Prasad said in the first phase of the eastern corridor project, a separate freight corridor would be built from Ludhiana to Sonnagar via Ambala, Saharanpur, Khurja and Allahabad.

CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said the Budget was more of "Chidambaram model" rather than in the interest of the country. "Laluji has been overshadowed by Chidambaram," he said, adding the budget tried to please only affluent middle class people.

"There is no relief for the daily passengers in metro cities. There is not a single local train introduced," Dasgupta said. "This is in competition with Kingfisher and Air Deccan."

The Left leader said the Budget was lacking on several counts, mainly expansion of network, consolidation, modernisation, increase in the number of coaches, maintenance and cleanliness among other things.

Leaders from Kerala also were upset with the Budget. "There are no new long trains for the state - neither from Delhi nor from Mumbai. Our demand for a separate zone for Thiruvananthapuram is also been ignored," CPI-M MP Suresh Kurup said.

Reminding the prime minister that the Left parties were supporting the government, CPI-M leader Basudeb Acharya said: "We are the supporting parties. We have as many as 42 MPs from West Bengal, even then our plea has been ignored."

However, Basu hoped the government would not let the situation turn worse. "I hope the government would not create such a situation that forces us to vote against the Railway Budget."