NEW DELHI - Reactions from various political leaders and parties to the railway budget presented by Pawan Kumar Bansal on Tuesday.
MANMOHAN SINGH, prime minister: The Minister for Railways has done a commendable job in meeting competing demands of improving and increasing services for commuters and controlling expenditure of his department. It is a reformist and forward looking Budget which presents a realistic picture of Railway finances. I compliment him for his innovations in critical areas of Railway infrastructure and paving the way for capacity expansion.
P. CHIDAMBARAM, finance minister: (It is a) very responsible, practical and implementable budget. I think after many years he (Pawan Kumar Bansal) has candidly stated the state of finances of the railways and within the resources that the railways can mobilise I think he has done a remarkable job of providing new trains, new lines, extensions, capital works, and production facilities. I think it's a very commendable budget.
RAJNATH SINGH, BJP chief: By making significant reduction in creating new rail track targets (proposes only 400 Kms for 2013-14) the UPA Government has shown its lack of vision to build rail infrastructure. With no positive outlook towards passenger safety and strengthening infrastructure the Railways is incurring huge losses.
MAYAWATI, Bahujan Samaj Party chief: They have told us about the losses but the reasons behind the losses should be clarified. Railways is such a department that if run properly it cannot be in losses … they are putting a load on the passengers and have also increased freight charges, but they don't think about providing facilities. Every year they talk big during the rail budget but passengers will not get any benefit from it.
MULAYAM SINGH YADAV, Samajwadi Party chief: Since the time I have been in parliament, of all the rail budgets I have seen … such an anti-people budget has never been presented … I have no objection to providing for Rae Bareli and Amethi. But why is Kanauj, Badaun, Etawah, Bundelkhand, Farrukhabad left out? … this budget is only for Congress party supporters.
PRAFUL PATEL, Nationalist Congress Party leader: He (minister) has tried to extend help to all sections, has even held on to fares and has done much to increase railways income, to provide clean facilities to people, to reduce accidents … he has done a lot of good work but the din in the assembly prevented a lot of good things from coming forth.
GOPINATH MUNDE, BJP leader: This is not railway budget, this is Rae Bareli budget. This budget has not been presented with the whole country in mind.
BALBIR PUNJ, BJP leader: The railways minister could have done better. It is very high on promises and as far as the performance of the railways is concerned, I think it's the ninth railway budget of the UPA I and II which the honourable minister has presented, and it's very low on performance, there is nothing to report. And all the promises which have been made in the budget today they are repetitive and if you look at the last eight budgets you will find that the same clichés have been repeated and there is nothing new, no initiative and absolutely no imagination in this budget.
CPI-M: The railway minister has made the false claim that railway fares are not being increased. After increasing passenger fares by 20 percent just two months before the railway budget, the present budget provisions will definitely increase the fares further. A fuel surcharge has been imposed which will result in raising the fares twice a year. The five percent increase in freight charges across the board will have a cascading effect on inflation. The railway budget has made no serious effort to overcome the financial crisis affecting the Indian railways.
LALU YADAV, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief: No other railway minister was in such a pathetic situation during budget. They are bankrupt. They have no money.
(Compiled by Shashank Chouhan)