Rail Budget 2013 Reaction: Political parties say common man will be hit hard
Key outside UPA allies Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party too were unhappy saying it was anti-poor and ignored areas of Uttar Pradesh which need rail infrastructure for economic development.
BJP leader Gopinath Munde said it was more of a 'Rae Bareli budget', claiming it has favoured Sonia Gandhi's constituency while SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said it was a "budget for the Congress".
"This is not rail budget but Rae Bareli budget. This budget has not been prepared keeping in mind the whole country and this is the reason one could see an attempt to disrupt the budget presentation due to unrest among the MPs," Munde, who Deputy Leader of BJP, told reporters outside Parliament.
The main opposition claimed that the NDA ruled states had been discriminated against.
"Especially, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh have been totally ignored and there are no new schemes for these states. This budget is for Amethi, Rae Bareli and Chandigarh. This is a discriminatory budget," he said.
Former Finance Minister and MP Yashwant Sinha described the Railway budget as "very, very pedestrian" and a "political budget" aimed at the forthcoming general elections.
"The rail minister acknowledged that railway finances were not properly handled during the previous years which led to the present situation. The PM was listening. This PM had earlier said that the Budget is good, this year also he is saying the same thing irrespective of who the rail minister is," Sinha said.
He alleged that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was responsible for the poor financial condition of railways.
BSP supremo Mayawati said the rail budget was a "disappointment".
"The poor and middle classes will not benefit much from it.... Fare has been hiked through backdoor," she said, a charge echoed by the Left parties which claimed that the Rail Minister had camouflaged the hike.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the budget will have cascading effect on prices and "no of its plans are likely to fructify".
"I find this budget is going to be a burden on the people. This budget does not give any hope to the future of the railways," said CPI's D Raja said.
"The budget has no innovative project to ensure safety, modernisation and cleanliness of Railways," the Forward Bloc said.
Terming the railway budget as a "major disappointment," Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said the hike in supplementary and freight charges would cause an increase in the prices of essential commodities and fuel inflation.
The budget was "uninspiring" and lacked any long-term perspective with regard to infrastructure development, she said in a statement in Chennai.
"I have never seen such an anti-people budget in my political life.... This is a budget for Congress...you can give new trains for Rae Bareli (Lok Sabha constituency of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi), but don't ignore Bundelkhand and Poorvanchal," Mulayam said.
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain alleged that the Rail budget had catered only to the Congress constituencies and it will give rise to inflation.
"I think is an ordinary budget. It lacks vision for the future," he said. "With the establishment of a National Tariff Commission the government has prepared an instrument to increase prices whenever the price of diesel or power is increased," he said.
Sinha claimed as unprecedented that members troop into the Well of the House during a Railway Budget presentation as was seen today.
"If the PM is strong, a good budget will be presented, if he is weak then, you can't blame the alliance. In every rail budget, regional aspirations are visible. If an MP is not satisfied with the Budget due to lack of announcement for his region, then there is ruckus in the House which we saw today," he said.
"I think, the situation witnessed today in the House was worse than any other rail budget, because slogans were being raised that this is not a rail budget but a Rae-Bareli budget. You take the name of a place three to four times and do not take the names of big states at all, then anger is apparent. This is a sycophancy budget," Sinha said.
Party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said they did not expect that a Railway Minister belonging to a national party "will have such a narrow vision".
Referring to the Rs 24,600 crore loss announced by the government today, Mayawati said if Railways are run properly it would not incur any loss.
"Government says it will review the fares twice a year. A review only means an increase in fares. The government will never decrease fares. This will affect the poor and the middle class. It will also affect prices of commodities as they are transported on rail," she said.
She also charged that the government "talks big but does not deliver. The railway platforms are very dirty, the passenger seats are in a bad shape, the food is not good."
BJP President Rajnath Singh termed the Rail budget an "eyewash" as passenger fares have already been hiked before the budget session of Parliament.
"Now the government has introduced dynamic fuel adjustment component on freight rates that will result in a five per cent increase in rates. Any increase in freight rates is bound to push all round inflation in the country," he said.
He also rued the hike in Tatkal reservation and superfast charges.
The Railways suffer from the UPA's economic disorientation and financial mismanagement," Singh said.
"shortcomings" enumerated by him included reduction in creation of new rail tracks, no positive outlook towards passenger safety and strengthening of infrastructure.
"Railways has presented a deficit of Rs 24,600 crore without showing any signs of improvement in infrastructure or passenger amenities.... The rail budget has definitely exposed the UPA government's inability and lack of vision to revive the ailing Indian railways," Singh said.
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar wondered why a rail budget has been presented when the fares were hiked surreptitiously before the session and further hikes are likely after the session ends.
He demanded that government should ensure the revenue collection of railways is doubled but did not explain how this should be done. He also criticised the government announcement of going for the Public-Private Partnership, saying this model has not worked for railways in the past.
"This rail budget is the farewell express of the UPA government," quipped BJP Vice President Naqvi.