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Updated: March 16, 2012 01:17 IST

Rail budget is House Property, says Pranab

Special Correspondent
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Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee speaks in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi on Thursday.
PTI Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee speaks in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi on Thursday.

BJP and Left describe the situation as “unusual and unprecedented”

Amid noisy scenes over Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi's reported resignation, the government maintained in the Lok Sabha on Thursday that he had not resigned and continued to hold the post.

“A communication from Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee has been received, and it is under the active consideration of the Prime Minister,” Finance Minister and Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee said after the Opposition wanted to know the status of Mr. Trivedi and the Railway budget he presented in the House on Wednesday.

The communication from Ms. Banerjee was received late on Wednesday, and “as and when a decision is taken, the House will be informed,” Mr. Mukherjee said, without disclosing its contents.

Trinamool leader Sudip Bandopadhyay said his party had not asked Mr. Trivedi to resign. “The matter has to be settled between my leader [Ms. Banerjee] and the Prime Minister.” The government, he said, “is totally settled and would complete its term.”

As the National Democratic Alliance and Left parties sought a response from the Prime Minister, question hour was disrupted in both Houses, which had to be adjourned briefly.

The BJP and Left leaders described the situation as “unusual and unprecedented,” which showed the government in bad light, and asked the Prime Minister to clarify.

In the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj, Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal (United), Basudeb Acharia of the CPI(M) and Gurudas Dasgupta of the CPI had given notice for suspension of question hour and sought a clarification from the government. But their pleas were disallowed by Speaker Meira Kumar.

“The constitutional position is that the Railway budget is owned by the government. It is approved by the Finance Minister. Cabinet approval is not required. I own the responsibility, and now it is the property of the House,” Mr. Mukherjee said, responding to Ms. Swaraj's queries.

As the Speaker took up question hour, BJP members trooped in the well, demanding a statement from the Prime Minister. This led to the adjournment of the House till noon.

Earlier, Ms. Swaraj said the country was faced with a constitutional crisis as no sooner had the Railway Minister presented the budget, his party leader asked the Prime Minister to drop him from the Cabinet. “A Parliamentary Affairs Minister has gone missing from the House. Is Dinesh Trivedi still the Railway Minister? What is the status of the Railway budget? The House would like to know the government's response to this uncertain situation.”

For the first time, a Minister presented the Railway budget and was asked to resign immediately, said Mr. Acharia. “It is also for the first time that Ministers of this government are staging a sit-in against the Minister and his budgetary proposals.”

Mr. Dasgupta backed the Trinamool's demand for a rollback of the increase in passenger fares. As a citizen, Ms. Banerjee had every right to make the demand. In this episode, he said, the concept of Cabinet responsibility was being targeted.

In the Rajya Sabha, the Opposition demanded a statement from the government, forcing Chairman Hamid Ansari to adjourn the House till noon.

Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley termed the situation “unprecedented.”

Amid the din, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said: “The Prime Minister has not received any resignation [letter] from the Railway Minister.” He had received only a communication from Ms. Banerjee, and any decision taken would be conveyed to the House.

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Mr. Trivedi's bold action is the need of the hour for the Indian Railways. The hike in fares is a but a necessary measure to salvage the Railways and prevent it from going the Air India way. The focus on safety improvement, the improvement of the operating ratio and the introduction of high speed trains are also urgently required measures. Most people seem to realize this. However, it is unfortunate to note that politicians are playing a drama in the name of populist measures.

from:  Niranjan
Posted on: Mar 17, 2012 at 13:30 IST

For all those who are saying this obstruction is wrongful, how will
the railways function without cash, raise in rates is the need of the
hour etc ... what were you doing for the last 8 years. A profit
making machinery in 2004 has been reduced by Lalu and Mamata while
everybody was watching blindly, now with the theatrics everyone is
awake. Truly MMS has led the country to ruins. Railways first,
country's fiscal next, telecom then, manufacturing non-existent, so
on .....

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Mar 16, 2012 at 15:01 IST

I wonder how the railways will run without an increase in fares.For the past nine years there was no increase. Our trains run on Diesel oil and Electricity, both of which has gone up beyond imagination. Salaries also has gone up. Just to get a name for themselves every politician is claiming to save the common man by blocking the government if they could whenever the government tries to do something . I see an obstruction at every step. May be it is a good idea to run the government as a charity or Salvation army and let the country go to dogs.

from:  daisydoe
Posted on: Mar 16, 2012 at 04:55 IST
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