Trinamool derails fare hike, BJP, Left slam budget (Political Roundup)March 14th, 2012 - 8:50 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi’s maiden railway budget sparked a political explosion Wednesday after his Trinamool Congress blasted his proposed fare hikes, throwing up a new crisis for the already beleaguered Congress-led coalition.
In an unprecedented situation, Trinamool chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee turned against her own railway minister, publicly chiding him for the first-in-a-decade fare hike.
She and her party colleagues demanded a rollback of the fare hike.
But the usually mild-mannered Trievedi refused to bow down, insisting to the media that the proposed fare hikes were vital for the ailing railway’s financial health. Lack of money, he warned, would hit passenger safety.
With minor-to-moderate fare hikes, 96 new passenger trains and focus on safety, Trivedi tabled his budget for 2012-13 in parliament, promising the highest spending on projects worth Rs.60,100 crore ($12 billion).
He said safety would be the prime focus of his ministry during the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17), along with network expansion and modernisation.
While the criticism of the budget from the opposition was predictable, the government was embarrassed by Mamata Banerjee’s belligerence.
“We will not not allow rail fares to be hiked,” she told a public meeting in Kolkata.
Added her colleague and Minister of State for Health Sudip Bandyopadhyay: “We want the government to roll it back. It is not in the interest of the common man.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh robustly defended the hike, saying it was an exercise in the right direction.
“The railway minister has presented a forward looking budget with emphasis on safety and modernization of the Indian Railways,” he said.
In a stand that is bound to further hit its strained ties with the Trinamool, the Congress said the fare hike was “very minor” and necessary in view of the increased fuel prices.
“It takes care of safety and security of passengers while keeping an eye on expansion,” Congress MP Girija Vyas told IANS.
Unmindful of his party’s stand, Trivedi said he did not want the railways to go bankrupt like the public sector Air India.
“I have taken the railways out of the ICU. Had I not taken these measures the staff would not have gotten their salaries,” he said.
He added: “I have to do whatever is good for the railway. Losing the chair (cabinet post) is no consequence.”
The opposition did not spare him either.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) slammed the budget as “directionless, anti-people and lacked effective measures to step up security”.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said the budget was unclear about modernisation plans.
“Unless some measures are taken to improve internal efficiency and increase the load factor (to) generate revenues, no future modernisation of the railways is possible,” party leader Sitaram Yechury said.
In West Bengal, Trinamool’s foe, the Left Front, asked Trivedi to explain about projects that were announced a year ago.
“It is a populist budget. But what about the issue of revenue generation and railway safety?” asked Kshiti Goswami, state secretary, Revolutionary Socialist Party.
- India's rail budget raises fares, focuses on safety (Roundup) - Mar 14, 2012
- India's rail budget raises fares, focuses on safety (Intro Roundup) - Mar 14, 2012
- Rail budget lacks fund-generation ideas: Left - Mar 14, 2012
- Rollback of fares is PM's prerogative: Mamata - Mar 19, 2012
- Fare hike needed to provide amenities: Trivedi (Lead) - Mar 14, 2012
- PM regrets Trivedi's going; Mukul Roy to be sworn in Tuesday (Roundup) - Mar 19, 2012
- Trivedi's rail fare hike rationale absurd: Trinamool MP - Mar 22, 2012
- Safety with modernisation is Trivedi's mantra for railways (Second Lead) - Mar 14, 2012
- PM regrets Trivedi's departure as railway minister (Lead) - Mar 19, 2012
- Stage set for another railway budget - Mar 13, 2012
- Mukul Roy sworn in as cabinet minister (Second Lead) - Mar 20, 2012
- Trinamool's exit revives railways hopes - Sep 21, 2012
- Dinesh Trivedi speaks to Mamata, to quit (Second Lead) - Mar 18, 2012
- Dinesh Trivedi will be told when to go: Trinamool - Mar 15, 2012
- Mamata gets Left support on rail fare rollback (Lead) - Mar 15, 2012
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