Budget 2021

‘Bullet for the people, trains for the BJP’

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on July 08, 2014

Former Railway Minister and leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party Mallikarjun Kharge

Former Railway Minister and leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party Mallikarjun Kharge has termed the Modi Government’s first Rail Budget as anti-poor. He said the Government has decided to take away the social responsibility factor in running one of the biggest public sector transport systems of the world. Edited excerpts:

What is your assessment of this Rail Budget?

This is a PPP Budget, an FDI Budget. There is no Government support for this Budget. No gross budgetary support, except for the Silchar-Arunachal Pradesh line. This is only an administrative exercise where they have just put some papers in front of Parliament. It sounds like an administrative report. It is like giving directions to officers to improve safety, cleanliness and laundry work in the Railways. Is this the policy of the Railways? These are not policy matters. These are just administrative matters.

But the Government says this Budget will help rail modernisation.

What innovation? What modernisation? They told us about the bullet trains. How much money have they kept? Just ₹100 crore. Even five km of dedicated corridor cannot be built with this money. To build a km of ordinary rail track you require ₹7-8 crore. They are hoping to build 4,000 km of dedicated corridor. But the allocation is not even for 500 or 1,000 km. One should be practical while announcing such schemes. Here, the bullet is for the people, and the train is for the BJP.

The Budget has criticised whatever was done during the UPA tenure…

This is unfair. Our Government had provided gross budgetary support for routes such as Udhampur-Khatra, Banihal-Baramulla and to the north-eastern region. All projects started within 10 years. If you say that nothing has happened, it is unfair. For projects, which are not economically viable, the Government gives economic support.

For the BJP, everything reflects commercial interests. They are saying that if a project is not viable commercially, it will not take off. Even for stoppages, they are thinking on commercial lines. Social responsibility is key in a country like India and to fulfil that, we may have to take the Finance Ministry’s assistance along with improving our own resources.

Do you see any proposals for revenue generation for the Railways?

No proposals. They have already announced a 21 per cent hike in passenger fares. Whatever they wanted to take from the people, they have already announced and taken it. In this Budget, they have made some announcements on administrative reforms.

Published on July 08, 2014

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