No derailing feisty Mamata during rail budget (Lead)February 24th, 2010 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) Combative, hectoring and ploughing on regardless of the commotion around her, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee was at her feisty best Wednesday when she presented the rail budget for a marathon two hours.
Dressed in a white and green sari and her trademark rubber slippers, Banerjee presented the rail budget in the Lok Sabha amid constant din from the opposition that accused her of being brazenly pro-West Bengal.
But she was not one to be deterred. “Where is Cuttack?” she shouted at opposition MPs to indicate that she was not ignoring other states.
The minister went to great lengths to name various destinations being covered by new trains to rubbish the opposition charge that she was more interested in her native state. “Why Bengal, Bengal karta hai. (Why do you keep saying Bengal, Bengal),” she asked.
At various other points in the speech, during which her Bengali pronunciation led to laughter, she sternly asked MPs to quieten down.
“Sunta nahi hai theek sai (you don’t listen properly),” Banerjee admonished opposition MPs.
“Khali chilla raha hai (he is only shouting),” she said impatiently at another point in the speech. And told another MP: “Dekho to route. Chillate pahle ho (See the route first. You are shouting first).”
She even threatened to stop reading and lay the speech on the table of the house.
“I am also a human being,” a frustrated Banerjee said at one point. And carried on gamely, not even stopping for a sip of water.
Speaker Meira Kumar repeatedly intervened to ask the MPs to sit down and let Banerjee finish her presentation as she soldiered on.
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who were sitting next to Banerjee, smiled indulgently as she took on the opposition.
Banerjee thanked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi for providing her guidance and was cheered by the Congress benches as she spoke of rail projects in the constituencies of the Congress president and her son Rahul Gandhi.
There were some lyrical interjections as well in the speech.
Banerjee quoted the famous patriotic song of 1962 war with China, “Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon”, to say that the railways would use the services of ex-servicemen in the Railway Protection Force (RPF).
Insisting that she worked with a “never say no” approach to demands from the elected representatives, Banerjee ended her speech with a famous Urdu couplet: “Khudi ko kar buland itna ki har takdir se pehle khuda bande se khud puche ki bata teri raza kya hai. (Raise yourself to a level where god asks you your wish before writing your destiny.)”
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