Lalu’s rail budget is an election gimmick: Mamata Banerjee

February 13th, 2009 - 5:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Feb 13 (IANS) Former railways minister and chief of West Bengal’s principal opposition party Trinamool Congress Mamata Banerjee Friday termed the railway budget as an election gimmick.
“This budget is just a gimmick before the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. It will have no justification as soon as the new government takes over,” Banerjee told reporters here.

“This is not the first time such a thing has happened. Even during my tenure as railways minister in 2000, I saw just two-three months before elections all pending files coming up for review and public-friendly budgets were presented. But all went back to square one after the new government came to power.”

Banerjee said the 2 percent reduction in passenger fare was a farce.

“I must say that this Re.1 reduction on tickets over Rs.50 is a trick to fool the public. Already there is a five percent cess on passenger fare. It would have helped people if at least 10 percent reduction was announced,” she said.

“Also, the freight rates have not been decreased. This is the most important sector upon which the business of the country depends. So, this budget has no positive effect on industries, especially coal, oil and steel.”

The Trinamool chief further said the concepts of bullet train and additional freight corridors is not new as she had already cleared the projects during her term in office.

“Besides, only three new trains have been provided for West Bengal whereas during my stint of one year and five months, the state got about 20 new trains,” Banerjee said.

She, however, welcomed the proposal to transfer wagon units of Burn Standard at Burnpur and Howrah to the railways ministry, saying: “I will be very happy if this matter is taken into consideration immediately.”

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