Mamataa has nothing new in her goody bag
Railways minister Mamataa Banerjee faces a predicament. After emptying her goodies bag of new trains and stalled fare hikes last year, she is wondering what more she can offer the people of the country when she presents the Railway Budget for 2011-12 in late February.
"I was thinking what more to give in the next budget. It seems that I have given all that there was to give in the last budget itself," Banerjee said here on Sunday.
Last year's budget saw the railways minister announce a number of projects and, contrary to expectations, leave train fares untouched.
"Our objective is inclusive growth," she had said then.
She had also announced 117 new trains and highlighted Vision 2020, a 10-year development plan for the railways.
However, most of the projects, including new trains and factories, were for West Bengal.
With her home state going to polls later this year, this year's budget - Banerjee's third in her current stint as minister -is expected to be even more Bengal-centric than before.
"The previous budgets were not only for Bengal. I am a Union minister and Bengal can not be my only priority," she said, dismissing charges by the opposition that she was the "railway minister of West Bengal".
Taking a swipe at chief minister Buddhadeb Bhatacharjee's remark that none of the projects announced for the state would take off because of lack of funds, Banerjee said, "Work on all projects is on. Money has also been sanctioned. We prepare a project first and only then announce it."