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Opposition makes history of a noisy kind

It could have been Lalu Prasad's dream budget speech. Except no one listened to him, writes Aloke Tikku.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2006 12:20 IST

It could have been Lalu Prasad's dream budget speech. Except no one listened to him.

Lalu Prasad spoke about "historic policy decisions" under his leadership. But he was not the only one making history. The Left and the Opposition chipped in to make this the first time in recent times when nearly half of the rail minister's speech was inaudible. The BJP started the protests, by complaining that the minister had ignored Opposition-ruled states.

Soon the Left took over to begin a high decibel round of disruptions. Left MPs Basudev Acharya and Md Salim were piqued that the East-West dedicated freight corridor would not touch Kolkata, but end at Sonnagar in Bihar. Finance minister P Chidambaram tried in vain to placate them. As a result, Lalu Prasad ran through his speech faster than any of the 200 trains he upgraded to super fast category.

It wasn't clear what the BJP was protesting but references to Patna or Bihar seemed to provoke slogans or sniggers. "Budget nahi, yeh dhoka hai," they shouted. Lalu Prasad later brushed aside charges of partiality to Bihar. Releasing a state-wise list, he said Uttar Pradesh was the biggest gainer; Maharashtra next.

Railway Board chairman Jai Prakash Batra later said the Left's complaint arose from the PM's reference to the freight corridor as Delhi-Kolkata route in a "colloquial" sense. Extending the route to Kolkata would waste crores of rupees, he said.

Uproar BJP BAWLS Lalu ignored Oppn-ruled states LEFT GRIPE East-West freight corridor won't touch Kolkata, but end at Sonnagar, Bihar.

First Published: Feb 25, 2006 11:33 IST