Questioning the implementation of projects announced in the two previous railway budgets of Mamata Banerjee, the West Bengal Left Front Committee said Friday's exercise “was a political gimmick ahead of the elections [in the State].” “This is a political budget. She wants to draw mileage before the election campaign……She says that work has started, but nothing has started,” committee chairman Biman Bose told journalists here.
He was also critical of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee keeping silent as Ms. Banerjee “misleads the people in this way, that too inside Parliament.”
“There were so many announcements made in the Railway budget speeches in 2009 and 2010. What happened to them? ..... I fear this budget will meet the same fate as the previous budgets.”
For most of the projects announced by Ms. Banerjee, funds had not been allocated from the Planning Commission, Mr. Bose pointed out and asked how they would be viable.
The only positive feature of this year's budget, he said, was that passenger fares were not increased.
“In a situation where the people are already reeling under the impact of escalating prices, not increasing passenger fares is a good decision.”
However, the Pradesh Congress Committee welcomed the “populist rail budget,” and said it was a reflection of the welfare programme to ensure socio-economic security under the Manmohan-led United Progressive Alliance government.
“By not increasing passenger fare and other tariffs, the Railway Minister has lived up to the expectations of the people,” said a PCC statement.