Rail budget disappointing, say former Railway ministers Lalu, Nitish

Rail budget disappointing, say former Railway ministers Lalu, Nitish

Two former Railway ministers-- Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad--and a leader of Trinamool Congress, which held the Rail portfolio thrice, today trashed the Railway Budget as "disappointing" and a "big zero".

Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Ashok Chavan said the railway budget was mere "jugglery of words" while the NCP dubbed it as "housekeeping budget" which was "directionless" and devoid of goodies for the common man.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar while describing the budget as "disappointing" said it did not have anything impressive in terms of cleanliness and safety. Kumar, a senior JD(U) leader also said he was not impressed by the decision not to raise passenger fares.

"With the decline in international oil prices, they should have actually lowered the train fare...no increase in fare could serve the purpose of breaking news, but it's not a big deal in view of falling international oil prices," Kumar told reporters in Patna.

Kumar, who was the Railway Minister during Prime Minister A B Vajpayee's term, said there were no "concrete proposals" for enhancing safety or to check delayed running of trains.

"Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is a personal friend. My good wishes are with him but there is nothing in the Railway Budget to cheer about," Kumar said.

"The depreciation reserve fund has dwindled to less than 40 per cent under the present regime. Hence, there is no impressive allocation of funds on enhancing safety," he said.
During his tenure as Railway Minister, Kumar had created a safety reserve fund of about Rs 17,000 crore for making journeys safe and secure.

Lalu Prasad, who is RJD President, said the Budget has "cheated" people as it has nothing to offer. He also said there was no concern for "safety" aspect in the Budget.
"It is all over. It has derailed. There is nothing in the Rail budget. It has cheated people. Let the financial Budget be presented, it will be further finished...," Prasad told reporters in Patna.

Prasad, who served as Railway minister during UPA I, said that he had achieved a surplus of Rs 60,000 crore during his tenure as the Railway minister. He had not even asked from the government to support the Rail Budget.

The Trinamool Congress described the  budget as a "big zero" and said there was nothing new at all. "The Railway Budget is a big zero. Last year it had no depth. This year too. Nothing new at all. Freight rates and passenger fares were increased earlier. Zero plus zero equals zero," TMC national spokesperson Derek O'Brien said in a statement. Besides West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Dinesh Trivedi and Mukul Roy of TMC had held the Railway portfolio.

"(Suresh) Prabhu's first railway budget was directionless and this one has also failed to meet expectations", Chavan, a former Maharashtra Chief Minister, said in Mumbai.

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