Political parties slam Railway Budget

New Delhi : Political parties Tuesday slammed the Narendra Modi-led NDA government’s first Railway Budget, terming it “pro-rich” and a “cosmetic exercise”.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi described the Railway Budget as “hopeless”.

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Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, told media persons outside parliament: “It is a pro-rich budget. The budget has nothing new to offer. There is no new scheme, no new plan and no new railway line.”

The former railway minister said the government has a social responsibility towards people and wondered what will happen to public welfare if the focus is only on commercial viability.

The CPI-M denounced the budget, calling it “a cosmetic exercise, high on rhetoric and low in substance”.

“The emphasis has been in high-sounding bullet trains and commercial freight corridors with no budgetary calculations to back up,” the party said in a statement.

“The entire emphasis is to attract FDI (foreign direct investment) and to undertake all further expansion and modernisation through the ignominious PPP (public-private partnership) route,” it said.

In the budget, Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda unveiled many new measures to make Indian Railways, which runs about 20,000 trains and ferries 23 million passengers daily, a modern, efficient and commercially viable utility.

Trinamool Congress (TMC), which got into an ugly spat with the Bharatiya Janata Party inside the house while protesting the budget, slammed it as “vision-less” and “anti-people”.

TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee accused Modi of being “politically vindictive” for giving just one new train to West Bengal.

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad said: “The rail budget is nothing but a fraud…”.

Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati said the budget talks about things like modernisation of railways but how does the government plan to do that when there is no money and the railways is running at a loss.

She said: “We welcome the move to introduce bullet trains but I think instead of starting something new, they should first restore and maintain the existing railway tracks.”