SIDELIGHTS: Trivedi refuses to toe Mamata-Lalu line

PTI New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

Railway Minister, Dinesh Trivedi’s, maiden budget presentation in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday was comparatively low key to those by his predecessors Ms. Mamata Banerjee and Mr Lalu Prasad with fewer quips, jibes, jeers and interventions during his speech.

A large part of Mr Trivedi’s 90 minute speech, interspersed with rhyming poetry that drew some laughter, was heard in silence.

Most members were eager that the minister announce details of the new trains and projects, which would have helped them reach out to their respective constituencies, but were disappointed when Mr Trivedi kept asking them to look at the annexures.

Many senior leaders were not present in the House during the presentation. These include UPA Chairperson, Ms Sonia Gandhi, Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar— who had fainted yesterday in the lobby in Parliament— and sulking Union Minister, Mr Harish Rawat.

From the Opposition benches, NDA Working Chairperson, Mr L K Advani and JD(U) chief, Mr Sharad Yadav, along with SAD members were away in Chandigarh to attend the swearing—in ceremony of Mr Parkash Singh Badal as Punjab Chief Minister. Samajwadi Party chief, Mr Mulayam Singh and his son and UP Chief Minister— designate, Mr Akhilesh Yadav were also not present.

Notable among those present were Mr Rahul Gandhi, who had kept away from the President’s Address, and Mr Suresh Kalmadi, who was released from Tihar jail recently in CWG case.

RJD chief, Mr Lalu Prasad, however, was irrepressible. Right in the beginning he asked Mr Trivedi twice to speak in Hindi. At one point, he took a jibe at the minister, saying, “tell us which annexures to go to“.

A conspicuous change this time was absence of repeated references to schemes and trains for West Bengal, which had become a prominent feature of Ms Banerjee’s last two budgets.

Visibly annoyed at no mention of Bihar, Mr Lalu Prasad tried to draw the minister’s and then the Speaker’s attention but had to take his seat when both of them ignored him.

During the presentation, Mr Trivedi picked up a file and told Mr Lalu, “All Bihar (schemes, trains) is here“.

Mr Trivedi made the customary reference to his leader Ms Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool motto of “maa, maati, manush (mother, motherland and people)”. He further said Ms Banerjee has always emphasised that “safety never sleeps“.

When the minister announced increase in fares, some members objected to it.

The minister brought knowing smiles on the faces of members when he said he had received 5,741 requests from MPs, of which 3,000 were for miscellaneous areas including transfers and postings of railway employees.

Programmes announced by Mr Trivedi which won applause from the House includes naming of a coaching terminal at Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s birthplace Naihati in the author’s name and building of a museum there, completion of a 11 km tunnel in Pir Panjal to connect the Kashmir Valley to the rest of the country and building of green toilets.

Leader of Opposition, Mr Sushma Swaraj, looked visibly happy and thumped the desk when the minister announced that a plant would be established in her constituency Vidisha for manufacture of traction alternators for high horse power diesel locomotives.

An opposition members summed up at the end, “There is still suspense in the rail budget” as Mr Trivedi had not spelt out all the trains and schemes in his speech.

Published on March 14, 2012

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